A menudo las denuncias de apoyo de los Estados Unidos a los terroristas pseudoislamistas en todo el mundo caen en oídos sordos y son desestimadas como divagaciones enloquecidas de los sostenedores de teorías conspirativas.

Según muchos estudiosos, entre ellos Noam Chomsky y Michel Chossudovsky, los Estados Unidos tienen una larga y bien documentada historia de apoyar a genocidas en todo mundo, secreta y abiertamente.

Como han informado gran cantidad de investigadores, el gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha apoyado a dictadores militares genocidas en todo el planeta así como a un amplio rango de extremistas violentos, entre los que se cuentan los escuadrones de la muerte en América Latina y los terroristas del MKO (Organización de los “Combatientes del Pueblo”) en Irán. Del mismo modo, se denuncia que apoyaron distintos tipos de agresiones en otras partes del mundo.

Se ha informado ampliamente del apoyo de los Estados Unidos a los Muyahidin, a al-Qaeda y al principio a los talibanes, al igual que del apoyo a los terroristas internacionalistas que derrocaron Gadafi y a quienes hicieron todo lo posible por aniquilar a Irak y Siria.

A pesar del claro peligro que representan para el mundo occidental los llamados islamistas radicalizados (terroristas), los analistas de inteligencia informan que la administración estadounidense ha seguido valiéndose de ellos como “útiles herramientas geopolíticas” para debilitar y desestabilizar estados-naciones.

Parecía que el gobierno de Estados Unidos finalmente adoptaría una postura moral en contra del ISIS por medio de la resolución Fortenberry del 15 de marzo de 2016 y que acusaría al grupo terrorista de responsable de genocidio, crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad. Pero nada indicaba que tuviese la intención de procesar a los terroristas que regresasen.

El Director del FBI James Comey dijo en una entrevista con “60 minutos” el 07 de octubre de 2014 que los ciudadanos estadounidenses que están luchando junto al ISIS tienen “derecho” a volver a los Estados Unidos. Tal posición, sin embargo, viola de manera flagrante el Código de Estados Unidos, sección 1481, el cual establece:

El ciudadano de los Estados Unidos, por nacimiento o por naturalización, perderá su nacionalidad si realiza voluntariamente cualquiera de los siguientes actos:… (3) entrar en las fuerzas armadas de un estado extranjero o servir en el mismo en el caso de que (A) esas fuerzas armadas se involucren en enfrentamientos contra los Estados Unidos, o… (7) cometan cualquier acto de traición en su contra, o intenten por la fuerza o de manera armada acabar con los Estados Unidos,…, o hacerle la guerra a los Estados Unidos, siempre y cuando sea declarado culpable por una corte marcial o un tribunal de jurisdicción competente.

Además, la ley actual de Estados Unidos también declara que es un crimen proporcionar apoyo material a una organización terrorista, lo cual incluye unirse o intentar unirse a un grupo terrorista. Por último, la Ley de Neutralidad de los Estados Unidos también considera un crimen que los ciudadanos norteamericanos o residentes luchen en contra de un gobierno con el que Estados Unidos no está oficialmente en guerra.

Sin embargo, la ley no se aplicó bajo la administración Obama. En lugar de detener, enjuiciar y castigar a los criminales de guerra y traidores, James Comey, el Director del FBI, informó que los terroristas del ISIS que regresasen, solamente serán “seguidos”. De hecho, el 13 de noviembre de 2015, el FBI admitió que estaba ocupado en el control de unas 1.000 investigaciones que involucran a miembros, simpatizantes y partidarios del ISIS en suelo estadounidense. Por lo general, sin embargo, ya sea en Europa o Estados Unidos, recién nos enteramos que una persona estuvo “bajo vigilancia” después de cometer asesinatos en masa.

El 22 de septiembre de 2014 el Presidente Obama admitió que combatientes estadounidenses en el ISIS habían regresado a los Estados Unidos. En lugar de detenerlos, imputarlos y condenarlos, dijo que eran seguidos muy de cerca. Es lo mismo que decirle a los padres que el estado, simplemente, vigila de cerca a los pedófilos violentos y a los depravados sexuales en vez de imputarlos o hacerles pagar sus crímenes.

El Instituto Brookings publicó un artículo de Daniel L. Byman y Jeremy Shapiro el 30 de septiembre de 2014 en el que se sostiene que “el peligro que plantea el retorno de los combatientes es conocido y razonable”.

Un informe político titulado “El Retorno de Combatientes Extranjeros” fue publicado por el Instituto Brooking el 15 de agosto de 2015. Debatía a favor de la reintegración de los combatientes extranjeros en contraposición a su criminalización.

El Departamento de Estado y la USAID (Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional) publicaron en Mayo de 2016 su “Estrategia Conjunta en la Lucha Contra el Extremismo Violento”, la cual llama a la “rehabilitación y la reinserción” de los radicales extremistas violentos “en la sociedad”.

Peter Bergen, Courtney Schuster y David Sterman describen en un estudio titulado “El ISIS en Occidente”, publicado por la Fundación New America en Noviembre de 2015 y actualizado el 22 de marzo de 2016, que la amenaza que representaba retornar a los terroristas era “escasa y en todo caso… manejable”.

Al parecer, el gobierno de Estados Unidos también tuvo sus musulmanes pro Obama que apoyaban el plan suicida de reintegrar a los combatientes terroristas que regresasen.

Humera Khan, Director Ejecutivo de “Muflehun” –think tank especializado en prevención de la radicalización y lucha contra el extremismo violento–, propone cuatro estrategias que se entrecruzan para luchar contra las posiciones radicalizadas:

prevención de las actuaciones extremistas, trabajar con las personas que hayan radicalizado, interdicción o detección y procesamiento de quienes caigan en conductas delictivas y reinserción en la sociedad de los delincuentes que en prisión hayan cumplido los plazos de su condena o regresen de zonas de conflicto.

Mientras que las personas razonables están de acuerdo con la prevención e intervención, la idea de rehabilitar a los terroristas culpables de genocidio, crímenes de guerra y crímenes contra la humanidad, es moral y éticamente inaceptable.

Una cosa es que un joven ingenuo o idealista –a quien le lavaron el cerebro algunos salafistas/wahabitas/takfiristas manipuladores– vaya a Siria, observe que le han mentido, se dé cuenta de que el estado “islámico” es realmente un estado “satánico”, se arrepienta, vuelva casa y repare su error. Jóvenes así podrían, eventualmente, abandonar completamente las ideas extremistas y servir para evitar la radicalización de otros.

Otra cosa distinta es retornar al mundo occidental (sin más ni más) a una persona totalmente consciente de las acciones criminales del ISIS, al que se unió con entusiasmo para torturar, mutilar y asesinar a la gente; decapitar a los bebés; exterminar a los cristianos, a los shiitas, a los sufíes, a los sunitas tradicionales y a los kurdos. Y a las mujeres, violarlas, esclavizarlas y hacer un negocio sexual con ellas.

A pesar de que la administración Obama respalda la resolución Fortenberry y halla culpable al ISIS de crímenes de guerra, genocidio y crímenes contra la humanidad, no se propuso para nada llevar a los terroristas del ISIS a los estrados judiciales, en el país o en el extranjero.

Al igual que los gobiernos europeos, que creen que enjuiciar a los terroristas que regresen es “inviable” y “difícil”, el gobierno estadounidense sostiene que el Tribunal Internacional de los Derechos Humanos no tiene competencia sobre Siria e Irak. Irónicamente, el gobierno de Estados Unidos no tiene reparos en lo que hace a la cuestión de competencia cuando se trata de atacar, bombardear, invadir y ocupar naciones soberanas.

A través de declaraciones de funcionarios gubernamentales, recomendaciones de los grupos de reflexión, así como informes de una serie de fuentes cercanas a la Casa Blanca, la política de los Estados Unidos con Obama fue no arrestar y enjuiciar a los combatientes del ISIS que regresasen a los Estados Unidos, sino intentar “reinsertarlos” en la sociedad norteamericana, poniendo así en peligro a todos los estadounidenses. Primero los cubanos exiliados, a continuación los Contras y ahora esto.

La misma política se vino aplicando en Arabia Saudita durante algún tiempo, mediante la cual los terroristas son “reeducados” para que vean a tal o cual gobierno extranjero como el enemigo y objeto de su “jihad” contra los infieles y no al propio régimen saudita. Tal política tuvo poco éxito.

La administración Obama, al adoptar la “Estrategia Conjunta en la Lucha Contra el Extremismo Violento”, reveló una visión increíblemente ingenua respecto a la amenaza que representan los terroristas takfiristas para Occidente. En verdad, permite que se sospeche que la “reintegración” puede ser parte de la oferta que los Estados Unidos hicieron a algunos combatientes del ISIS, a tráves de una especie de paquete de jubilación o de pase a cuarteles de invierno a esos elementos considerados valiosos, para disponer de ellos en posibles acciones futuras. Y los agentes federales pueden temer que si no cumplen con dicha negociación el ISIS responderá con ataques a gran escala dentro de los Estados Unidos.

Los lectores, indudablemente, deben recurrir a “Políticas de Contrainsurgencia de la Escuela Superior de Guerra de EEUU” y a “Escuadrones de la Muerte en el Salvador”, ya que parece que el plan de Estados Unidos para el ISIS puede incorporar elementos de los modelos que se utilizaron con los escuadrones de la muerte y los Contras. La GRAN DIFERENCIA aquí es que los escuadrones de la muerte y los Contras no declararon la guerra a los Estados Unidos, lo que haría que lo del ISIS sea el mayor desastre de política exterior en la historia de Estados Unidos.

Todos los estadounidenses deben tomar conciencia de que tales políticas fueron propuestas y que incluso fueron implementadas. La Cámara de Representantes de EEUU declaró por unanimidad en Marzo de 2016 que las acciones del ISIS eran genocidio. El Secretario de Estado John Kerry se hizo eco de ello. Sin embargo, parece que el plan no es arrestar a esos criminales de guerra, procesarlos y enviarlos a Guantánamo, sino intentar reintegrarlos a la sociedad, quizás luego de unas cortas “vacaciones”.

Todavía estamos buscando y castigando a los últimos nazis con más de 90 años pero no consideramos que las acciones del ISIS, por cierto, poseen un salvajismo que ni a los nazis se les hubiese ocurrido. A cualquiera que piense que un joven terrorista con la sangre todavía húmeda y fragante en sus manos representa una amenaza menor a la de esos nazis para la sociedad de Estados Unidos, se lo debería someter a un estudio psiquiátrico. ¿Perdieron efecto las leyes que sancionan la traición? Parece que sí.

Si bien la Casa Blanca de Obama aparenta haber perdido la cordura, parecería que las Naciones Unidas aún tienen la cabeza sobre sus hombros. Contrariamente al gobierno de los Estados Unidos, que minimiza el peligro, la ONU informó recientemente que los combatientes terroristas extranjeros “representan una significativa y evolucionada” amenaza global.

El gobierno de Estados Unidos bajo Obama sigue viviendo en “la ciudad de las estrellas”, instando a las comunidades musulmanas que ayuden a reintegrar y rehabilitar a los combatientes del ISIS que ingresen a EEUU. La consigna de la administración (de Obama) podría ser ¡bienvenidos a casa los del ISIS!

Las cosas indicarían que con la elección de Donald Trump el péndulo se corrió de una política de complicidad con los terroristas del ISIS –en tanto supuestamente los combaten–, a otra de expulsarlos, con el apoyo de Vladimir Putin, quien dejó de ser un enemigo para convertirse repentinamente en un aliado indispensable.

Guerra Atómica con Rusia

Aunque la derrota de Hillary pueda ser decepcionante para la mitad de la población de Estados Unidos, parecería que evitó una guerra atómica con Rusia y China. La política Obama-Clinton de enemistad con Rusia y China estaba jugando con fuego atómico. La amenaza de Hillary de imponer una zona de exclusión aérea sobre Siria y su disposición a derribar aviones rusos, podría haber llevado a un conflicto de proporciones catastróficas.

La mayor acumulación de bombarderos nucleares en Diego García –una base militar norteamericana en el Océano Índico–, la prohibición de vuelos sobre los silos de armas atómicas de Montana y el movimiento de recarga de los tanques de combustible de los aviones en Oriente Medio, también fueron signos ominosos en octubre de 2016.

Aunque el gobierno de EEUU desestimó en gran medida o totalmente la información, los rusos organizaron en Octubre de este año simulacros de ataques atómicos con 40 millones de ciudadanos. En el mismo mes, Putin pidió a los estudiantes rusos, a los funcionarios y a sus parientes que regresasen a “la Patria”. Estas acciones sin precedentes coincidieron con la actualización del Sistema de Alerta DEFCON (Condición de Defensa) a Nivel 3.

Dicho sistema tiene cinco niveles diferentes. El nivel 1indica la previsión de un ataque atómico inminente. Para poner las cosas en perspectiva, la última vez que la alerta llegó a un punto tan crítico fue el 11 de septiembre de 2001. Durante la crisis de los misiles cubanos, las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses ordenaron DEFCON 3 mientras que el comando aéreo estratégico ordenó DEFCON 2.

Si bien la mayoría de los habitantes del planeta tierra no se enteraron, es obvio que el mundo estuvo al borde de una guerra atómica en octubre de 2016. Tampoco percibieron que ese riesgo se relacionaba directamente con la posible elección de H. Clinton. Hillary no solamente tenía la intención de continuar la fallida política exterior de su predecesor sino que pretendía asumir una postura más beligerante.

Mientras que gran cantidad de personas se asombraron por la elección de Donald Trump y muchos estaban convencidos de que el mundo llegaría a su fin, no se dieron cuenta que el nivel de alerta DEFCON inmediatamente pasó de 3 a 5, es decir, “actualmente no existe ninguna amenaza nuclear inminente contra los Estados Unidos”. En otras palabras, el mundo casi llegó a su fin: no por el triunfo de Trump sino debido a H. Clinton.

Si bien es cierto que el sistema de alerta DEFCON “no está vinculado con ninguna agencia del gobierno… y no representa el estado de alerta de ningún sector militar”, sirve como barómetro que mide el riesgo de una guerra nuclear que involucra a los Estados Unidos. Esta opinión surge de la información pública disponible y de datos de agencias civiles y militares.

Como Presidente electo, el primer logro de Donald Trump fue salvar al planeta de la catástrofe atómica. El segundo logro fue su promesa de cesar todo apoyo de Estados Unidos a los terroristas que operan en Siria, Iraq y más allá. Y esperamos y rogamos que en su razonable reajuste de la política exterior y visión multipolar del mundo, en lugar de traer a casa a los ex combatientes del ISIS envíe a esos takfiristas terroristas a su hogar permanente en el Infierno.

Así como he criticado al Sr. Trump por todas las declaraciones escandalosas que hizo y las políticas inauditas propuestas y así como voy a seguir denunciando cualquier declaración que realice o acciones que emprenda que violen la Constitución de los Estados Unidos, la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, la Convención de Ginebra y el derecho internacional, alabaré y apoyaré cualquier esfuerzo positivo de su parte.

El señor Trump nos promete, como Presidente: 1) que el imperialismo y excepcionalismo norteamericano serán parte del pasado; 2) que Estados Unidos no empleará a los terroristas “islamistas” como parte de acciones militares abiertas y/o encubiertas contra naciones soberanas; 3) que se eliminarán los planes para reintegrar y rehabilitar a los combatientes terroristas que regresen y que esos criminales de guerra serán llevados ante la justicia; y, finalmente, 4) que no se considerará la existencia de musulmanes “moderados” y “extremistas” sino de musulmanes verdaderos y falsos. Si Trump cumple con estas cuatro promesas, tranquilizará en gran medida a la comunidad musulmana estadounidense, desalentará la islamofobia y reducirá los crímenes por odio que afecta a los musulmanes.

Señor presidente electo Trump, es el momento de actuar como tal y serlo para todos los estadounidenses, incluidos nosotros, los millones de musulmanes orgullosos de ser ciudadanos de esta gran nación.

Dr. John Andrew Morrow

Dr. John Andrew Morrow: Autor de “Los Pactos del Profeta Muhammad con los Cristianos del Mundo” y Director de “Iniciativa de los Pactos”, un movimiento internacional dedicado a la protección de los cristianos perseguidos así como de los shiitas, sufíes sunitas tradicionales y yazidíes. Sus sitos en la web incluyen www.covenantsoftheprophet.com y www.johnandrewmorrow.com Su cuenta de Twitter es @drjamorrow. También se lo puede seguir en Facebook: @johnandrewmorrow y @covenantsoftheprophet.

Artículo original en inglés, disponible aquí

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Ahora le toca a Estados Unidos

December 21st, 2016 by Ariel Dorfman

Es tristemente familiar para mí la indignación y alarma que muchos estadounidenses sienten ante la noticia de que sus servicios de inteligencia han confirmado que Rusia intervino en las recientes elecciones con la intención de que Donald Trump fuera el próximo presidente.

He vivido antes esa misma indignación, esa misma alarma.

Para ser más específico: la mañana del 22 de octubre de 1970, en lo que por entonces era mi casa en Santiago de Chile, escuché, junto a mi mujer Angélica, un flash extraordinario por la radio. Un comando de ultra-derecha había atentado contra el General René Schneider, jefe de las fuerzas armadas chilenas. No había esperanza de que sobreviviera a los tres balazos que había recibido.

Angélica y yo tuvimos la misma reacción: es la CIA, exclamamos, casi al unísono. No teníamos en ese momento pruebas fehacientes de ello –si bien con el tiempo aparecería abundante evidencia de que teníamos razón–, pero no dudábamos de que se trataba de otro intento más de Estados Unidos de subvertir la voluntad del pueblo chileno.

Seis semanas antes, Salvador Allende, un socialista de férreas convicciones democráticas, había ganado la presidencia, a pesar de que Washington había gastado millones de dólares en una campaña de guerra psicológica y desinformación tratando de prevenir aquella victoria. El gobierno de Richard Nixon no podía tolerar esa revolución sin violencia que proponía Allende, su programa de liberación nacional y de justicia social y económica.

El país estaba plagado de rumores de un posible golpe de Estado. Ya había sucedido en Irán y Guatemala, en Indonesia y Brasil, donde mandatarios reacios a los intereses norteamericanos habían sido derrocados. Ahora le tocaba el turno a Chile. Y, debido a que el general Schneider se oponía tenazmente a esos planes, lo habían ultimado.

La muerte de Schneider no impidió que Allende asumiera el mando, pero la CIA, obedeciendo las órdenes de Henry Kissinger, prosiguió su asalto a nuestra soberanía durante los próximos tres años, con sabotajes a nuestra economía (“que grite de dolor”, según palabras textuales de Nixon), y también promoviendo bombazos y asonadas militares. Hasta que, finalmente, el 11 de septiembre de 1973, Allende fue depuesto, y murió en el Palacio de La Moneda. Fue el comienzo de una dictadura letal que duraría diecisiete años. Años de tortura y ejecuciones, largos años de desapariciones, persecución y exilio.

En vista de tanto dolor, se podría presumir que estaría justificado cierto regocijo de mi parte al ver a los estadounidenses agitados y furiosos ante el espectáculo de su propia democracia mancillada por una potencia extranjera, como fue mancillada la nuestra y la de tantas otras naciones por Estados Unidos. Y, en efecto, es irónico que la CIA, la misma agencia que para nada le importó la independencia de esas naciones, ahora se lamente de que sus tácticas hayan sido imitadas por un pujante rival internacional.

Puedo saborear la ironía, pero confieso que no siento regocijo alguno. No se trata tan solo de que, habiendo adquirido la nacionalidad estadounidense y habiendo votado en esta última elección, de nuevo sea víctima de este tipo de siniestra intromisión. Mi desaliento deriva de algo que va más allá de un sentido personal de vulnerabilidad. Estamos ante un desastre colectivo: quienes votan en Estados Unidos no deberían sufrir lo que nosotros, los que votamos en Chile, ya padecimos. Es intolerable que el destino de los ciudadanos, del país que fuere, sea manipulado por fuerzas foráneas.

Y es peligroso subestimar y despreciar la seriedad de esta violación de la voluntad popular. Cuando Trump niega, como lo hacen también sus acólitos, que su elección como presidente fue fruto, como aseguran los servicios de inteligencia, de la intervención rusa, se está haciendo eco, extrañamente, de los mismos argumentos con que nos respondieron los opositores de Allende cuando muchos chilenos acusamos a la CIA de interferir en nuestros asuntos internos. Trump usa términos idénticos a aquellos que se reían de nosotros en ese entonces: tales alegatos, dijo, son “ridículos” e “inverosímiles”, pura “teoría de la conspiración”, puesto que es “imposible saber quién está detrás de esto”.

En Chile, sí que terminamos sabiendo quien estaba “detrás de esto”. Gracias a la Comisión Church del senado y su valiente informe de 1976, el mundo descubrió los crímenes de la CIA, los múltiples modos en que había destruido la democracia en países extranjeros con el supuesto fin de salvarlos del comunismo.

Estados Unidos merece, como lo merecen todas las naciones del planeta –incluyendo, por cierto, a Rusia– la posibilidad de elegir a sus líderes sin que alguien en alguna sala remota en un país lejano determine el resultado. El principio de coexistencia pacífica y respeto mutuo es la piedra fundacional de la libertad y la auto-determinación de los pueblos, un principio que, nuevamente, ha sido vulnerado, perjudicando esta vez a Estados Unidos.

¿Qué hacer, entonces, para restaurar la fe en el proceso democrático?

Primero, tiene que haber una investigación pública, independiente, transparente y exhaustiva de manera que, si ciudadanos estadounidenses y agentes extranjeros colaboraron para adulterar el último proceso electoral, ellos sean expuestos y castigados, por muy poderosos que sean. El presidente electo debe exigir tal investigación en vez de mofarse de ella. La legitimidad de su régimen, ya menoscabada por la significativa mayoría de Hillary Clinton en el conteo del voto popular, depende de ello.

Pero hay otra misión, más elevada, que tendría que emprender el pueblo mismo de Estados Unidos, hagan lo que hagan los políticos y los funcionarios de inteligencia. Las implicaciones de este asunto deplorable deberían llevar a una meditación incesante y despiadada acerca de los valores, las creencias y la historia de este país compartido.

Estados Unidos no puede, de buena fe, denunciar lo que se ha perpetrado contra sus ciudadanos decentes si no está dispuesto a confrontar lo que se perpetró en su nombre contra ciudadanos igualmente decentes de otros países. Y como resultado de esta auto-examinación, tendría que resolver firmemente nunca más llevar a cabo tales actividades altaneras e imperiales.

¿Qué mejor ocasión para que América se mire en el espejo, qué mejor momento que este para que el país de Abraham Lincoln enfrente su propia y auténtica responsabilidad?

Ariel Dorfman

Ariel Dorfman: Escritor chileno-norteamericano, autor de La Muerte y la Doncella y, recientemente, de las memorias Entre Sueños y Traidores y la novela Allegro.

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Las autocríticas de la izquierda latinoamericana

December 21st, 2016 by Emir Sader

Tiempos de crisis, tiempos de balances,   de autocríticas, de búsqueda de nuevos horizontes. Después de tantos años de éxito del modelo de desarrollo económico con distribución de renta, cuando surgen problemas, graves algunos, con sustitución de gobiernos en Argentina y Brasil, se oye el coro de: ¡balance autocrítico!

A veces da la impresión que el modelo no fue un éxito durante más de una década, antes de entrar en crisis. Que Argentina no fue rescatada de la peor crisis de su historia. Que Brasil no dejó, por primera vez en su historia, el mapa del hambre. Como si se tratara de hacer un balance de un gran error, de un malentendido, de un fracaso. Se unen la derecha y sectores de la ultraizquierda para intentar pasar la versión de que nada de fundamental ha pasado en esos países en este siglo. De que todo es una ilusión pasajera, de que la vida de millones de personas no ha mejorado mucho durante más de una década.

De hecho, quien en la izquierda más se ha equivocado y no ha hecho autocrítica hasta ahora han sido las ultraizquierdas. Esas corrientes han afirmado, allá en los comienzos de los gobiernos progresistas latinoamericanos, que serían una continuación de los gobiernos neoliberales, que habían traicionado a la izquierda, que fracasarían, serían desenmascarados por los pueblos y sustituidos, seguramente, por corrientes de ultraizquierda. Con variantes en cada país, esas posiciones valían para Hugo Chávez, Lula, Néstor y Cristina Kirchner, el Frente Amplio de Uruguay, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa.

Pero la realidad quiso otra cosa. Las previsiones macabras no se han realizado, el pueblo ha reconocido las medidas de esos gobiernos, les ha elegido y relegido, consagrándolos como los más grandes líderes populares de la izquierda en este siglo.

El balance de la izquierda que ha comandado esos procesos parte de los avances logrados, de los problemas no resueltos por esos gobiernos, hace autocrítica de los errores cometidos, en la perspectiva retomada del modelo de desarrollo económico con distribución, a partir de las experiencias acumuladas, en las nuevas condiciones nacionales e internacionales. Es, asimismo, un balance concreto, porque son fuerzas que tienen capacidad de pasar de la crítica y la autocrítica a la acción concreta, en lugar de quedar, de forma narcisista, mirándose al espejo.

Dos elementos estructurales no fueron superados por esos gobiernos, afectando directamente su desempeño: el primero, la hegemonía del capital financiero, que canaliza hacia actividades especulativas gran cantidad de recursos que podrían estar dirigidos a actividades productivas, con generación de bienes y de empleos. Es un fenómeno general del capitalismo en su era neoliberal, pero que, en caso de que se aprovecharan los procesos de integración, en particular en el Mercosur, donde hubo más homogeneidad, se hubiera podido formular y poner en práctica un modelo de desarrollo productivo que neutralizara y superara los efectos de la especulación financiera.

El otro factor estructural de desestabilización de los gobiernos progresistas es el monopolio privado de los medios, que influye directamente en la formación de la opinión pública. En todos los países con gobiernos progresistas ese es un factor decisivo en la disputa político-ideológica.

El libro Las vías abiertas de América Latina, recién publicado en Argentina por la editorial Octubre –que tendrá pronto ediciones en Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brasil– reúne balances de los seis países latinoamericanos que han avanzado en la superación del modelo neoliberal, con una análisis general de Álvaro García Linera. El libro contiene balances desde dentro de esos mismos procesos, apuntando hacia sus éxitos y sus errores, que es la única forma de aprender de lo vivido. Son vías abiertas y no fin de ciclo, porque frente a los intentos de la derecha de retomar su viejo modelo neoliberal, el camino de la izquierda latinoamericana es el de profundizar las vías de ruptura de ese modelo, como ha comenzado a hacer en esos países, en el momento más virtuoso de la historia del continente.

Emir Sader

Emir Sader: Sociólogo y científico político brasileño, es coordinador del Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas de la Universidad Estadual de Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).

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First published by Inter Press Service and Global Research in September 2014

While the United States, United Kingdom and NATO are pushing for war with Russia, it behoves people and their governments around the world to take a clear stand for peace and against violence and war, no matter where it comes from.

We are at a dangerous point in our history of the human family and it would be the greatest of tragedies for ourselves and our children if we simply allowed the war profiteers to take us into a third world war, resulting in the death of untold millions of people.

NATO’s decision at its summit in Wales (September 4-5) to create a new 4,000 strong rapid reaction force for initial deployment in the Baltics is a dangerous path for us all to be forced down, and could well lead to a third world war if not stopped. What is needed now are cool heads and people of wisdom and not more guns, more weapons, more war.

NATO is the leadership which has been causing the ongoing wars from the present conflict in the Ukraine, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and others.

NATO’s latest move commits its 28 member states to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on the military, and to establish a series of three to five bases in Eastern Europe where equipment and supplies will be pre-positioned to help speed deployments, among other measures.

“We are at a dangerous point in our history of the human family and it would be the greatest of tragedies for ourselves and our children if we simply allowed the war profiteers to take us into a third world war, resulting in the death of untold millions of people.”

This decision by the United States/NATO to create a high readiness force with the alleged purpose of countering an alleged Russian threat reminds me of the war propaganda of lies, half-truths, insinuations and rumours to which we were all subjected in order to try to soften us all up for the Iraq war and subsequent horrific wars of terror which were carried out by NATO allied forces.

According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) observation team, NATO’s reports, including its satellite photos which show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside sovereign territory of Ukraine, were based on false evidence.

While NATO is busy announcing a counter-invasion to the non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine, people in Ukraine are calling out for peace and negotiations, for political leadership which will bring them peace, not weapons and war.

This spearhead military force will be provided by allies in rotation and will involve also air, sea and special forces. We are also informed by a NATO spokesperson that this force will be trained to deal with unconventional actions, from the funding of separatist groups to the use of social media, intimidation and black propaganda.

No doubt the current Western media’s demonisation of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people, by trying to inculcate fear and hatred of them, is part of the black propaganda campaign.

NATO’s latest proposals of 4,000 soldiers, and a separate force of 10,000 strong British-led joint expeditionary force also proposed, is a highly aggressive and totally irresponsible move by the United States, United Kingdom and NATO. It is breaches the 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to base substantial numbers of soldiers in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis.

NATO should have been disbanded when the Warsaw Pact disintegrated but it was not and is now controlled by the United States for its own agenda. When speaking of NATO, one of President Bill Clinton’s officials said “America is NATO”. Today NATO, instead of being abolished, is re-inventing itself in re-arming and militarising European states and justifying its new role by creating enemy images – be they Russians, IS (the Islamic State), and so on.

In an interdependent, interconnected world, struggling to build fraternity, economic cooperation and human security, there is no place for the Cold War policies of killing and threats to kill and policies of exceptionalism and superiority. The world has changed. People do not want to be divided and they want to see an end to violence, militarism and war.

The old consciousness is dysfunctional and a new consciousness based on an ethic of non-killing and respect and cooperation is spreading. It is time for NATO to recognise that its violent policies are counterproductive. The Ukraine crisis, groups such as the Islamic State, etc., will not be solved with guns, but with justice and through dialogue.

Above all, the world needs hope. It needs inspirational political leadership and this could be given if President Barack Obama and President Putin sat down together to solve the Ukraine conflict through dialogue and negotiation and in a non-violent way.

We live in dangerous times, but all things are possible, all things are changing … and peace is possible.

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This open letter to the US Congress  signed by several prominent scientists and Nobel Laureates was first published by Global Research in February 2007

February 1, 2007

United States Congress
Washington, DC

Dear Member of Congress:

As physicists, members of the profession that brought nuclear weapons into existence, we write to urge you to pass binding legislation to restrict the authority of the President to order nuclear strikes against non-nuclear-weapon states.

Last year, the American Physical Society issued a statement of “deep concern” about the “possible use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and for pre-emptive counterproliferation purposes”. In addition, 2000 of our fellow physicists have joined in a petition opposing recent changes in US nuclear weapons policies that contemplate the use of nuclear weapons against underground facilities of non-nuclear-weapon countries and for “rapid and favorable war termination on US terms”. Some of us wrote to the President last year urging him to refrain from considering nuclear weapons use against non-nuclear adversaries.

Nuclear weapons are unique among weapons of mass destruction. Employment of nuclear weapons would kill untold number of innocent civilians in the target area, and the associated radioactive fallout could kill many thousands in other countries very far from the target. There are no sharp lines between small “tactical” nuclear weapons and large ones, nor between nuclear weapons targeting facilities and those targeting armies or cities. Crossing the nuclear threshold, even with a low-yield weapon, would erase the 60-year old taboo against the use of nuclear weapons and make their use by others more likely. If the victim is a non-nuclear-weapon state, such action would destroy, or at the very least severely undermine, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with disastrous consequences for United States and world security.

In view of the rising tensions with Iran and the potential for military confrontation, as well as the public statement by President Bush on April 18, 2006, that a nuclear strike against Iran is an option “on the table”, we believe it is essential that Congress address this issue at the earliest possible time. In the case of non-nuclear adversaries there is no extreme urgency associated with response or preemption of nuclear attack against our country or our allies. We are firmly convinced that Congress should have a say on which course of action would best serve the American people on the use of the terrible weapons our profession helped create.

A decision that would have a major impact on the course of history and could ultimately threaten the survival of civilization should not be in the sole hands of the President unless absolutely unavoidable. We urge Congress to pass binding legislation to forbid the use of nuclear weapons by the United States against countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, except with explicit prior Congressional authorization for such action.

Sincerely,

Philip Anderson, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Michael Fisher, Wolf Laureate, Physics
Jerome Friedman, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Kurt Gottfried, Chair, Union of Concerned Scientists
David Gross, Nobel Laureate, Physics
John Hall, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Jorge Hirsch, Professor of Physics
Leo Kadanoff, National Medal of Science, Physical Sciences
Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Daniel Kleppner, Wolf Laureate, Physics
Walter Kohn, Nobel Laureate, Chemistry
Joel Lebowitz, Boltzmann Medalist
Anthony Leggett, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Eugen Merzbacher, President, American Physical Society, 1990
Douglas Osheroff, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Norman Ramsey, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Edwin Salpeter, Dirac Medalist
Andrew Sessler, President, American Physical Society, 1998
Jack Steinberger, Nobel Laureate, Physics
George Trilling, President, American Physical Society, 2001
Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate, Physics
Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, Physics

Entre Fidel Castro y la dictadura de los mercados

December 20th, 2016 by Bruno Adrie

En un artículo titulado : “¿Cómo puede una persona comprometida a favor de los derechos humanos llorar a Fidel Castro – un hombre quien mató y reprimió a su propio pueblo?” [1] y publicado en la edición del pasado 26 noviembre de  The Telegraph, el periodista James Kirkup pretende poner en dificultad una izquierda de la que, obviamente, no forma parte, confrontándola con sus propias contradicciones. En efecto, se pregunta, ¿cómo puede la izquierda compaginar su admiración por Castro con su tradicional apoyo a los derechos humanos? Partiendo del principio según el cual un periodista debe tener la posibilidad de criticar a quienes nos gobiernan, invita al lector de izquierda, precisamente al lector que sostiene a Castro y su régimen, a descubrir el último informe de Amnesty International, un informe agobiador ya que revela que en Cuba, hay periodistas y militantes de defensa de los derechos humanos que son regularmente sometidos a detenciones arbitrarias por motivo de delito de opinión. Deseoso de contrarrestar cualquier tentativa de argumentación, nos recuerda que sabe perfectamente que en Cuba el sistema de sanidad es “muy bueno”, que el sistema de educación es “bueno” (y ¿por qué no muy bueno?) y los estándares de vida “relativamente buenos”. Aunque admite que el régimen de Batista (dictador cuyo nombre no menciona) era« pretty awful too », considera, sin embargo, que nada puede justificar que hoy se derrame una sola lágrima en honor del tirano comunista. En efecto, ¿cómo puede uno llorar a quien lo hizo todo para impedir que las víctimas de su sistema abandonaran la isla – ése “paraíso terrenal” dice ironizando – para salir en busca de otros lugares más amenos, no dejándoles a estos desdichados otra salida que zarpar en balsas poniendo así su vida en riesgo. Y nos pregunta: “Si el régimen castrista está tan seguro de beneficiarse del apoyo cariñoso de un pueblo libre y feliz, ¿por qué se niega a darle la posibilidad de elegir a sus propios líderes?” [2]

Poniendo el dedo en la llaga, James Kirkup insiste : ¿cómo pueden los izquierdistas, tan comprometidos en favor de la defensa de los derechos humanos y de las libertades políticas, dar su apoyo a este régimen represivo? No vaya a engañarse el lector, esta pregunta es puramente retórica y James Kirkup ya tiene la respuesta: es por causa de América que la izquierda apoya a Castro, a causa de su hostilidad hacia América (quiere decir hacia los Estados Unidos) que los partidarios de los derechos humanos de izquierda le dan su apoyo al régimen castrista, a causa de una hostilidad injusta hacia esta América que ha sido en palabras de James Kirkup, “el mayor contribuyente a la riqueza, a la sanidad y a la libertad que haya conocido el mundo”.

Admitamos que James Kirkup tiene razón de condenar un régimen que condena a los opositores (no armados), a los periodistas (independientes) y las reuniones (espontáneas) de ciudadanos ansiosos de compartir y expresar su desacuerdo con el sistema. Pero delira cuando pretende que los Estados Unidos son “el mayor contribuyente a la riqueza, a la sanidad y a la libertad que haya conocido el mundo”. Antes de soltar tan discutibles evidencias, habría debido por lo menos leer por ejemplo Días de destrucción, días de revuelta, de Joe Sacco y Chris Hedges o The Divide de Matt Taibbi para comprender el tema de la pobreza en los EEUU; habría podido leer también el Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report que revela los detalles de la crisis financiera del 2008; y a estas buenas referencias, habría podido añadir unos cuantos libros de Michael Parenti, de Noam Chomsky o de Gabriel Kolko, por ejemplo, antes de afirmar que la libertad es uno de los objetivos de la política extranjera estadounidense.

Es verdad que entretanto, y para agradarle, podemos concederle que sí, que es verdad el hecho de que los EEUU han garantizado y todavía garantizan la acumulación de riquezas de una élite que no escatima medios para salir adelante, de una élite dotada de muchos recursos y que, cuando tropieza, obesa y lucrada por un exceso de estafas y de prácticas dudosas, se encuentra instantáneamente rescatada por el Estado, para que los negocios retomen su curso, para que se multipliquen las inversiones, para que el dinero vuelva a producir dinero, matando de paso, si se debe, la economía real (y se debe) y que Wall Street pueda seguir viviendo a todo tren esnifando – con una indudable elegancia y serenada por el ronroneo de los motores sobrecilindrados de su bólido – las toneladas de cocaína que unos despiadados, sobreinformados y sobrearmados servicios de inteligencia, tienen la mala suerte de no poder detener en las fronteras obviamente demasiado porosas de una país no obstante sobrevigilado.

No se tratará en estas líneas de justificar las detenciones de periodistas o de activistas cubanos, y aun menos de sacrificar al culto de la personalidad del líder carismático que fue Fidel Castro. Nos negamos a ser infantilizados y pensamos que frente al poder, uno debe permanecer desconfiado, interrogar, pedir justificaciones, comprobar los hechos.

Pero, ubiquemos a Castro en su contexto y en el corazón de su acción.

Después del fracaso de la Moncada el 26 de julio de 1953 después de un exilio de varios años en los EEUU y en México, después de la epopeya del Granma y de los años de lucha junto a héroes anónimos y a la figura legendaria de Ernesto Guevara, Castro entra en La Habana el 8 de enero de 1959. Nombrado primer ministro, emprende un viaje a los EEUU donde no lo recibe un presidente Eisenhower quien acaba de empezar una partida de golf. De vuelta a La Habana, emprende una reforma agraria, confisca todas las propiedades de más de 420 ha a sus dueños. Une decisión que desencadena la ira del ogro estadounidense. Al enterarse de la noticia, el golfista (¿el golfo?) Eisenhower, presidente de un país de tenderos multimillonarios que lo sujetan por las orejas, da la orden de lanzar acciones cubiertas contra Cuba. En Washington, donde el derecho de propiedad es un valor sagrado, se contempla incluso la posibilidad de asesinar a Castro. Tocar el dinero robado, ¡eso sí que vale la pena capital!

El 4 de marzo de 1960, la explosión del buque La Coubre en el puerto de La Habana hace 127 muertos y Castro considera los EEUU como responsables de la matanza. El 17 de marzo, Eisenhower decide invadir la isla. El 8 de mayo, Cuba reanuda sus relaciones diplomáticas con la URSS y el 29 de junio confisca (¡una confiscación más!) las refinerías Texaco, Shell y Esso que se niegan a refinar el crudo que Cuba ha empezado a comprar a la Unión Soviética. El 8 de julio, los EEUU rebajan la cuota azucarera cubana en su mercado interior. Entonces, Castro se hace con los centrales azucareros y las compañías de teléfono y de electricidad. El 15 de octubre, suprime las propiedades urbanas, asestándole otro golpe al gran vecino. A los cuatro días, los EEUU ponen término a sus exportaciones hacia Cuba, declaran, el 16 de diciembre, un boicot total y rompen las relaciones diplomáticas con La Habana el 3 de enero de 1961.

La llegada a la Casa Blanca de John Fitzgerald Kennedy el 20 de enero de 1961 no cambia nada a los planes estadounidenses. El 15 de abril, tres aeropuertos militares cubanos son bombardeados y durante las exequias consecutivas al bombardeo, Castro se declara socialista. Después del fracaso del desembarco de la Bahía de los Cochinos el 17 de abril, el presidente estadounidense desata la operación Mangosta, un programa que agrupa operaciones de guerra económica, operaciones encubiertas y el apoyo a grupos de opositores cubanos. Durante toda la duración de este plan, se registran más de 700 operaciones de sabotaje contra objetivos económicos. Ante esta avalancha de agresiones, Castro acepta la propuesta de Jrushov de instalar misiles en la isla. El 2 de diciembre, el jefe del Estado cubano se declara marxista leninista para el resto de su vida.

Entonces, estalla la crisis de los misiles. Primero mantenida entre los bastidores de la diplomacia, acaba revelándola a los ojos del público un presidente actor que la presenta con tono grave, un presidente que no es más que el portavoz de los verdaderos directores de la política exterior reunidos en el Council on Foreign Relations de Nueva York. El mundo está al borde de una catástrofe nuclear. Y todo eso a causa de una reforma agraria, a causa de unas cuantas nacionalizaciones, a causa de esta manía inaceptable que ha tenido la Cuba castrista de querer recuperar su soberanía. ¡Menuda desproporción! Y por encima de eso, consideran que Rusos y Cubanos son responsables de haber traído el mundo hasta el umbral de la destrucción final. ¿Será necesario ser antiamericano para subrayar aquí la hipocresía de los sermoneadores washingtonianos, de los doctores de moral anglosajones, de los lacayos de un capital que dominan a la perfección el póker mentiroso de la diplomacia? ¿Cómo diablos podían condenar la instalación de cohetes rusos en Cuba, sabiendo que habían hecho lo mismo en Turquía? ¿Cómo puede uno no pensar que tienen una mente estrecha estos artistas de la compraventa, de estos marrulleros que pregonan la palabra “libertad” por todas partes, de estos vaqueros borrachos que huelen a sudor y a orina, que le obligan a jugar y que le ponen un revólver en la sien tan pronto como usted les saca un póquer por el simple hecho que han decidido desde el principio que la pasta debe acabar en los morrales que echan al cuello de sus caballos antes de escapar en la nube de polvo de un relinchante galope ?

Pero volvamos a la principal pregunta de James Kirkup : “Si el régimen castrista está tan seguro de beneficiarse del apoyo cariñoso de un pueblo libre y feliz, ¿por qué se niega a darle la posibilidad de elegir a sus propios líderes?” A nuestro parecer, esta pregunta es mezquina y no tiene sentido.

Primero porque la antífona democrática, la canción del sufragio universal se ha convertido en un cuento chino. ¿Ha creído algún día la élite estadounidense en la democracia? De ser el caso, la habría instalado de verdad, esta democracia, en su propio país. Y, en cada elección, no habría aplastado los electores bajo los cilindros compresores de una ensordecedora propaganda. No habría permitido que se arreglaran los escrutinios usando, por ejemplo, voting machinesde funcionamiento caprichoso vendidas y cuidadas por empresas que pertenecen a senadores demócratas o republicanos. Además, no habría puesto en marcha un sistema en el que el elegido no es quien ha recibido la mayoría de los votos. No, nunca ha creído en la democracia esta élite tan dispuesta a acortar, mediante asesinatos, guerras civiles, golpes de Estados y bombardeos, las experiencias más prometedoras emprendidas en América latina : Zapata, Allende, Roldós, Torrijos, Chávez, Zelaya… y muchos otros. Esta élite cree tan poco en la democracia que ha mantenido excelentes relaciones con una retahíla de dictadores (siempre de derechas) como Trujillo, Batista, Pinochet, Stroessner, Bánzer, Videla… que han garantizado la prosperidad de sus negocios. Y, por fin, last but not least, sería bueno que James Kirkup, el enamorado de América, comprendiera que las democracias son sistemas políticos muy permeables a la manipulación de las opiniones, permeables a los soft coups financiados por organizaciones como la NED[3], el IRI[4], la Open Society y otros dispositivos inventados para la desdicha de la naciones que todavía quieren resistir a la política de la puerta abierta, a la política del saqueo rebautizado globalización, de este falso proceso inevitable que no tiene otra meta que engordecer los bolsillos de los piratas de la finanza fisgona y desregulada. Recuerden Otpor en Serbia, Kmara en Georgia, Pora ! o el movimiento Euromaidan en Ucrania.

Es muy triste decirlo, Mr. Kirkup, pero sólo un gobierno fuerte, capaz de controlar la información, podrá resistir las campañas de prensa orquestadas por periodistas no del todo independientes trabajando para grandes grupos relacionados con intereses capitalistas estadounidenses. Sólo un gobierno consciente de vivir en estado de sitio podrá con lucidez darse la posibilidad de contrarrestar la acción nada espontánea de sediciosos comprados y de opositores mercenarios, armados y colocados en la escena (seudo)libertaria para la ocasión.

Dear Mr. Kirkup, le fue fácil realizar su artículo, rápidamente escrito, rápidamente rematado, no pensado siquiera, no vale la pena, ya que retoma, vuelve a recitar, vuelve a repetir, reciclándola, la cancioncilla ya grabada en las cabezas propagandizadas de sus lectores anémicos, de sus lectores pequeños ingenuos burgueses que, como usted, viven muy bien, consideran muy aceptable nuestro occidente imperialista productor de riquezas, consideran justo y generoso este capitalismo que les mima, les mantiene en buena salud y dentro de cuyos límites, sobre todo, se creen libres, perros ahítos y soñolientos, acurrucados en el claroscuro estrecho de las opiniones removidas, felices de vivir ahogados en la celda acolchada de los folletos escritas por usted, en el pluralismo engañoso de un catequismo único pregonado por sus colegas, en el machaqueo desodorizado de las explicaciones aceptadas, servidas con un embudo en el gaznate de los engatusados-engatusadores que consideran que es descortés, una putada en el fondo, que se les importune y que se atreva a trazar grafitis vengativos en el mármol pulido de sus ignorancias petrificadas.

Y para terminar, Míster Kirkup,  hago una hipótesis, que someto a los historiadores: ¿Cuál es la diferencia entre una dictadura de izquierda y una dictadura de derecha? Pues, mire, a mí me parece que una dictadura de izquierda es una dictadura que se ha convertido en una dictadura para resistir los ataques de la dictadura de los mercados mientras que, por lo contrario, una dictadura de derecha es una dictadura que ha abierto las puertas de la ciudad a la dictadura de los mercados. Con las dictaduras de derecha que colaboran con ellos, los mercados pueden a la vez extorsionar a los habitantes y ser, cada día, los invitados de honor en la mesa del alcalde que les ha jurado lealtad.

Entonces, entre Fidel Castro y la dictadura de los mercados…

Bruno Adrie (autor y traductor)

[1] “How can anyone committed to human rights mourn Fidel Castro – a man who killed and repressed his own people?” by James Kirkup, The Telegraph, 26 November 2016.

[2] « If the Castro regime is so confident that it enjoys the loving support of a happy and free people, why does he deny a proper chance to vote on their own leaders ? »

[3] National Endowment for Democracy

[4] International Republican Institute

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Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on Monday was found guilty of “negligence” for approving a massive government payout to business tycoon Bernard Tapie during her tenure as French finance minister.

“This should help calm all that they’re-only-in-it-for-themselves, anti-establishment feeling out there,” quipped Globe and Mail senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon in response to the latest charge of government corruption.

Though Judge Martine Ract Madoux did not hand down a sentence for the managing director, the court said Largarde “should have done more” to prevent the €405m ($422m) payout, Bloomberg reports.

Tapie, a close associate and financial backer of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was awarded the payout in 2008.

AFP explains:

“An arbitration panel ordered the payout to Tapie in connection with his sale of sportswear company Adidas. The panel upheld Tapie’s claim that the Crédit Lyonnais bank had defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale and that the state — as the bank’s principal shareholder—should compensate him.

“It was Lagarde who, in her role as French finance minister, ordered the case to be heard by an arbitration panel instead of proceeding through the regular courts.

“Critics say that Lagarde ensured Tapie received preferential treatment by referring the matter to arbitration as a quid pro quo for his financial support for Sarkozy during his 2007 presidential bid.”

Lagarde, who is traveling to Washington, D.C., was not present at Monday’s hearing in Paris, though she will likely appeal the decision. Reuters notes that the ruling could potentially trigger “a new leadership crisis at the International Monetary Fund after Lagarde’s predecessor Dominique Strauss Khan resigned in 2011 over a sex assault scandal.”

What’s more, the trial and surprise conviction will likely “reviv[e] concerns in France about high-level corruption,”the New York Times notes, “shining a spotlight on intimate ties between politicians and business people, and on the large sums that are sometimes used to grease the country’s political wheels.”

As many noted, Lagarde’s conviction capped off a year of intense political upheaval and establishment backlash across the globe.

GR Editor’s Note: Dominque Strauss Khan was framed in 2011. Lagarde was appointed to the position of Managing Director of the IMF (replacing Strauss Khan) a few days prior to a New York Court ruling which completely exonerated Dominique Strauss Khan on the basis of lack of evidence.

While Strauss Khan was dismissed following the 2011 scandal (despite the ruling of the New York court case which abandoned all charges again him) the financial scam involving Christine Lagarde was known to the French government. This however did not prevent her appointment to the IMF.  Needless to say, she retains her position at the IMF despite having been involved in a financial scam.

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African Electoral Politics, Instability and the Burgeoning Economic Crisis

By Abayomi Azikiwe, December 20 2016

All across the continent the continuing dependency on trade with the Western states has resulted in another round of uncertainty. Recent national elections in the West African state of Ghana were heavily influenced by the growing crisis in various economies throughout the region.

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IMF Head Lagarde Found Guilty of Criminal Negligence

By Stephen Lendman, December 20 2016

Earlier I explained her $300 + million arbitration order benefitted tycoon Bernard Tapie, not the French government she was sworn to serve as finance minister, violating her fiduciary duty. French Court of Cassation (its highest court of appeal) Attorney General Jean-Louis Nadal ordered the Tapie dossier made public, including allegations that “Lagarde had indeed acted in a way to defeat the law…to help Tapie gain a favourable decision, against an earlier” appeals court judgment for the state.

980x-2Stunning Photos Show Huge Crack in Antarctic Ice Shelf

By Dan Zukowski, December 20 2016

NASA has just released new aerial photographs that show, close-up, an immense, 70-mile long rift in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. The breach is 300 feet wide and one-third of a mile deep. As it grows, an iceberg the size of Delaware will break off.

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Paris in Transit and Urban Pollution: A Few Snapshots

By Stefan Kipfer, December 20 2016

In early December 2016, the Paris region suffered from the most intense bout of small particle pollution in a decade. Anticyclonic weather (cold air under a cover of hotter air undisturbed by wind) trapped pollutants. These came for the most part from car traffic (including diesel-powered beasts), ammonia-emitting intensive agriculture, some industrial emissions and a spike in pollutants from residential heating (90% of which emanating from the relatively few wood-fired ovens).

Fukushima-Japan-Nuclear-Radiation-Disaster

Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast

By Emerson Urry, December 20 2016

Tillamook County, Oregon — Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month.

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Tillamook County, Oregon — Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month.

WHOI is a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project, that has been monitoring the radioactive plume making its way across the Pacific to America’s west coast, from the demolished Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in eastern Japan.

The seawater samples were taken from the shores of Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach, and were actually obtained in January and February of 2016 and tested later in the year.

In other strikingly similar news reported last month, researchers at the Fukushima InFORM project in Canada, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, said they sampled a sockeye salmon from Okanagan Lake in British Columbia that tested positive for cesium 134 as well.

Multiple other reports have circulated online, mostly in alternative media outlets, and mostly not corroborated by any tangible measurement data, that point to cases of possible radioactive contamination of Canadian salmon, but EnviroNews Oregon has not independently confirmed any of these claims.

Testing Fish for Radiation in Sushi Restaurant

Cesium 134 is called the “footprint of Fukushima” because of its fast rate of decay. With a half life of only 2.06 years, there are few other places the dangerous and carcinogenic isotope could have originated.

It is important to note that airborne radioactive fallout from the initial explosion and meltdowns at Fukushima in 2011 reached the US and Canada within days, and circled the globe falling out wherever the currents and precipitation carried it — mostly to places unknown to this day. Even still, radioactive iodine 131 was found in municipal water supplies in places like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts shortly after the initial Fukushima accident — a triple meltdown ranked by EnviroNews USA as the most destructive environmental catastrophe in human history.

The samples from the Oregon coast measured around 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter for cesium 134. Researchers in both the US and Canada said the recently detected radiation levels were extremely low and pose “no risk to humans or the environment.” Sadly, NBC, the New York PostUSA Today, and even The Inquisitr amongst others, took the bait and reported the same thing.

Medical science and epidemiological studies have demonstrated time and again that there is no safe amount of radiation for a living organism to be subjected to — period. With each subsequent exposure, no matter how small, the subject experiences an increase in cancer risk. In the wake of Fukushima, several governments, and certainly the Japanese government, have raised the “safe” annual limit for radiation exposure for humans — this critics say, to lower legal liability and to placate concerns from the public, in an increasingly radioactive world. Now, many concerned citizens look on in concern, waiting for more testing and data on ocean waters and the seafood they so greatly enjoy.

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Paris in Transit and Urban Pollution: A Few Snapshots

December 20th, 2016 by Stefan Kipfer

In early December 2016, the Paris region suffered from the most intense bout of small particle pollution in a decade. Anticyclonic weather (cold air under a cover of hotter air undisturbed by wind) trapped pollutants. These came for the most part from car traffic (including diesel-powered beasts), ammonia-emitting intensive agriculture, some industrial emissions and a spike in pollutants from residential heating (90% of which emanating from the relatively few wood-fired ovens).

In response, the authorities imposed a partial ban on individual car traffic, allowing only cars with even (or uneven) license plates to circulate on alternating days. The regional transit authority (Syndicat des Transports en Ile-de-France, STIF) made public transit free for four days in a row. Twelve million Parisians were able to ride buses, streetcars, subways, regional trains, and shared bikes without paying a fare.

While Parisians were coughing and sneezing more intensely than usual, free transit rides were a respite for many. My 12-year old son, who had been getting used to free transit for children in Toronto before we left for Paris, was exuberant and took transit to school just because he could even though it is easier and faster for him to walk. Some of his friends took the opportunity to crisscross the city. (Did they wander the city by train like the situationists did on foot in the 1960s?)

For many transit users, the respite was real for other reasons. The right-wing majority on the council of the Paris region Ile-de-France (newly elected in 2015) had increased the cost of transit passes and eliminated special rates for Parisians without immigration papers, whose transit passes used to be discounted at a rate of 75%. (In France, those unemployed or with low-income are entitled to fare discounts of at least 50%, irrespective of status). Members of the neo-fascist Front National felt “pride and joy” to see their key principle (Préférence nationale, priority for nationals) implemented by the bourgeois right.

Transit Freedom

Four days of free transit meant also that one could breathe more easily in transit. There was little risk of running into a transit authority squad. Lately, these had been roaming the transit system at an increased, indeed disturbing frequency to enforce a new legal regime under which repeated fare evasion can lead to criminal persecution. “Transit freedom” was thus multiple, demonstrating that free transit releases transit workers from the task of playing cop and leaves riders to their rides instead of inflicting one more form of daily policing on them.

Elevated subway line 2 and demonstration against precarity

Elevated subway line 2 and demonstration against precarity. The demands included free transit (December 3, 2016).

For all these reasons – ecology, liberty, and just mobility – free transit matters. In France, a range of left and green parties, unions and precarious workers’ organizations demand fare-free transit in cities and towns where it does not already exist. (Aubagne, Châteauroux, Compiègne, Libourne, and Niort are some of the roughly 30 French towns that have decided to make transit free).

Among these voices for free transit are far-left parties like the anticapitalist Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) and the anarchist Alternative Libertaire (AL). The AL in Seine-St. Denis, suburban Paris, sees ‘fraud’ as an invention of a state that refuses to recognize the right to mobility and treats transit users as clients, that is, revenue sources. It has also reminded Parisians that transit policing targets stations in neighbourhoods dominated by immigrant working-class populations like St. Denis, thereby adding another layer to security overkill and class-inflected racial profiling.

Underinvestment

In the heavy air of December 2016, the limits to making transit free without other measures became quickly evident, however. As a result of two subsequent electrical failures, some of the busiest suburban trainlines in Paris, the RER B and D, shut down. The city’s largest train station (Gare du Nord) descended into chaos for two days. Other parts of the system still functioned but were more crowded or slower than usual. In the central city, where we live, it was even more difficult than usual to catch a Vélib, one of those grey bikes one can ride in the city and the near suburbs for an annual subscription fee of 29 Euros (about $40 Canadian).

The existing regional transit system in Paris is not in a position to accommodate a large and permanent increase in ridership. Making transit free on a short-term basis worked for the most part but I suspect mainly because overall car traffic was down a mere 5-10% due to limited enforcement, low fines (22 Euros, or about $30 Canadian), and the mere fact that many commuters have no obvious transit alternatives. On the streets of central Paris, even and uneven car plates remained ubiquitous during each of the four exceptionally polluted days.

Despite France’s deeply institutionalized car and motorbike culture, Paris has a very good, highly integrated regional transportation system: not as good as those of a few more advanced cities in Asia and Europe, but much better than most, particularly those in North America. Among the 2.2 million inhabitants of the City of Paris, few drive; most walk, bike or take transit. Transit orientation for those commuting to the City is also high. The automobile dominates suburb-to-suburb commuting, but the car is used for less than half of all employment-related trips in the region as a whole. And, due to still high fare subsidies and special discounts, fares are more affordable than in comparable cities, notably London.

The basic reasons are simple. First, central Paris is one of the densest urban habitats on earth. The City of Paris (2.2 million inhabitants) is 5 times denser than the City of Toronto (2.6 million). Many of its adjacent suburbs are quite walkable because their population densities are as high or higher than those of central Toronto. Second, given the importance of the capital in French politics, Paris infrastructure has long been a concern for the French central state (which ran the City of Paris until 1977). Third, the regional transit system was built in the 1960s on the basis of a nation-wide passenger train system that was not destroyed, as it was in North America. Still today, the national railway company SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français) runs most of the suburban and regional train lines (RER, TER) in Paris.

Suburban train RER A in Noisy-Champs, eastern suburbs

Suburban train RER A in Noisy-Champs, eastern suburbs (December 14, 2016).

This much said, Parisians know the limitations of their transit system well. Various lines have reached or exceeded their capacity. On some subway lines and some suburban trains, overcrowding, delays and technical failures are increasingly frequent. This is famously true for the RER A (which links the working-class suburbs in eastern suburbs with La Défense, the gigantic new central business district in the western suburbs) and the Métro line 13, which links some Northern working-class suburbs to the older financial district in the historic centre.

Much of the physical frailty and capacity bottlenecks in the Paris system result from chronic underinvestment in basic maintenance and the fact that the system did not expand structurally for many years after the regional train system was planned in the 1960s. Today, the capacity of the two main transit companies SNCF and RATP (Régie autonome des transports parisiens) to invest is limited due to the legacy of past decisions, rising debt levels and austerity. These all undermine the state of good repair of the existing system. The SNCF, for example, which has poured countless billions into the national high-speed rail network over the last generation while slowly deconstructing regular train service across the country, neglects to upgrade Paris’ rail infrastructure to the tune of €300-500-million a year.

Regional Contradictions

Another structural problem facing Paris is the growing mismatch between the inherited radial transit system and the increasingly chaotic regional employment and housing patterns that have emerged since the 1960s. Focused on multiple employment zones, these patterns are deeply inequitable, fraught by an imbalance between jobs-rich districts (in the western suburbs) and jobs-poor areas (notably in some northern and eastern working-class suburbs). These spatial imbalances and segmentations reinforce class, gender and racialized inequality.

Already squeezed by public sector finance, transit planners thus also face an-ever declining capacity to organize mobility in a polycentric region with multidirectional commuting patterns. The structural difficulties connecting different urban activities at a regional scale are endemic to capitalist metropoles. Why? The weight of private investment and private property in decisions pertaining to land development, employment and housing forces millions to commute and undermines planning capacities to coordinate people’s daily movements between domestic workplaces, offices, stores, factories, schools and childcare centres. The result: a paradoxical combination of constrained and forced mobility.

In Paris, this well-known systemic regional problematic is accentuated by the fact that historic transit investment has benefited the central city in such a way as to create transit as well as other physical, social and political divides between the City of Paris proper (parts of which always remained bastions of the bourgeoisie and its professional middle-class counterparts) and its surrounding suburbs (particularly those historically dominated by manufacturing and workers’ housing).

Still today, suburbanites who live on the more isolated working-class housing estates get very different transit service than those who live in the central city and the better serviced older suburbs. For these suburbanites, and those living in newer suburbs, free transit does not mean equal access to public transit. What is more, lower population densities, dispersed employment and a much less fine-grained transit system in the outer reaches of the Paris region (where the majority of weekday trips are made by car) makes it difficult to tackle car-dependency and reorient mobility along social and ecological lines at a regional scale.

In this context, most ‘green’ mobility projects are undertaken by central municipalities, notably the City of Paris itself. The City has managed to reduce car traffic somewhat with pro-bike and pro-pedestrian initiatives and restrictions on car traffic, particularly since the historic shift to a pink-red-green majority administration in 2001. In the Paris area, as in quite a few other metropoles, regional ecological planning is thus built upon a patchwork of geographically central urban spaces. With accelerating gentrification there, this central-city bias raises deep distributional questions. It also limits the regional environmental impacts of local initiatives (such as the current plan of the City of Paris to liberate the banks of the Seine from highway traffic).

Land-Rent and the Marketization of Transit

Since the turn of the century, multiple branches of the French state have been getting back into the business of expanding transit in Paris. Circular streetcar lines around the City of Paris continue to be built, one segment at a time. Construction has started to expand a few subway lines and build a super-regional subway system (Grand Paris Express) that will link up older and newer suburbs as well as yet undeveloped districts with two inter-linked mega-loops surrounding central Paris at various distances.

There is no doubt that the combination of all these investments will lay the foundation for better transit at a regional scale. Yet, the new routes will not stop the transit system from buttressing old or newly emerging regional inequalities. In fact, the regional plan includes a project to build an expensive express train to Roissy, the main Paris airport. This line (Charles-de-Gaulle Express) will bypass the string of suburban stations served by the existing RER line to the airport. It will allow business travellers and tourists who can afford to pay more than double the existing fare to avoid rubbing shoulders with the mostly non-white working-class transit users who live between central Paris and Roissy.

Streetcar construction in Clichy-sous-Bois

Streetcar construction in Clichy-sous-Bois (December 2, 2016).

The Grand Paris Express is also a trojan horse for land speculation, technocratic management and, indeed, marketized transit. Conceived by the Sarkozy government before being modified somewhat through negotiations with the red-pink-green majorities in Paris and the regional Council of the time, the project was intended to link export-oriented employment zones to transit infrastructure while ‘liberating’ land rent for developers. Overseen by a new agency (La Société du Grand Paris), the regional project comes with a special planning regime to facilitate private real estate investment in districts surrounding the new stations. In some areas, transit-linked planning supports efforts by the central state, housing agencies and municipalities to break up and redevelop stigmatized housing estates. A case in point: Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, the Eastern Paris suburbs where the 2005 uprising started.

Grand Paris also provides privatizers with an opportunity to subject the operation of new transit lines to a tendering process that might break the monopolies of the public transit providers SNCF and RATP. These two have long introduced “market” principles into their French operations and often bid for contracts abroad. Soon, they may compete with each other in Paris. Regional transit planning in Paris (and other French regions) has become a strategic avenue to implement and deepen European and national initiatives to marketize and privatize transportation.

Since the 1990s, the French state has anticipated or incorporated European Union directives that push the ‘liberalization’ of freight traffic, inter-city passenger transportation and regional transit. One effect of these national and European policies has been to segment public transportation and privilege road over rail transportation. In 2015, for example, the Hollande government opened the door for private inter-city bus operators. While one of these private companies (Megabus) has already gone bankrupt since then, the law compelled the SNCF to offer bus lines that compete with its own rail service.

This toxic mix – austerity, national and European marketization pressures, the priorities of the new right-wing regional Council and the Grand Paris project – has put the local and regional parliamentary opposition (including the Greens and the Communists) on the defensive. They are forced to fight deregulation, fare increases and cutbacks instead of focusing on new, proactive and progressive projects.

Transit worker unions are split on how to position themselves in relationship to privatization. UNSA (l’Union nationale des syndicats autonomes) does not oppose private-sector competition in principle but wants to regulate the sector so as to prevent private companies from undercutting working conditions. In contrast, the CGT (Confédération générale du travail) opposes deregulation and private competition because it recognizes that marketized transit will intensify the exploitation of transit workers while undermining coherent transit planning in the future. As I write these lines, CGT and UNSA are with their European counterparts at the European Parliament in Strasburg. Representing 700,000 rail workers, the unions protest the fourth ‘package’ of EU transportation policies, the goal of which is to open inter-city and regional passenger transportation to private competition.

Transit Un/Freedom

The recent spike in pollution levels across France reminded citizens of the deadly character of everyday pollution. ‘Normal’ air pollution is the third-largest source of mortality in France. It leads to 48,000 premature deaths per year in France (and half a million across Europe). The recent events also forced journalists and commentators to come to terms with the fact that the existing arsenal of measures is entirely inadequate to address the causes of pollution. These are intrinsic to capitalist development and exacerbated by neoliberalism.

Free transit certainly is a crucial element in projects for a just, genuinely sustainable, and much less polluting future. To realize it, the obstacles that stand in the way of making transit a daily reality for many must go. Hopefully, the taste of transit freedom will whet Parisians’ appetite to challenge unfree transportation – the combined state of restricted and forced mobility – which they usually live. •

Stefan Kipfer is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, and currently visiting professor at Université de Paris-Est, Marne-la-Vallée.

Thanks to Karen Wirsig for comments and to Anne Clerval and Christoph Hermann for passing on links and references.

Transit Sources:

Air Parif (Association de surveillance de la qualité d’air)
Alternative libertaire 93 (2016) “Se déplacer, c’est un droit. Exigeons les transports gratuits pour toutes et tous!
Eric Béziat, “Le réseau ferré francilien au bord de l’asphyxie” Le Monde December 9, 2016
Eric Béziat, “Transports: la guerre du Grand Paris part de Londres” Le Monde December 1, 2016
Carfree. La vie sans sans voiture(s) “La gratuité des transports en commun progresse en France” (2015)
Alexandre Chaignon et Marie-Noëlle Bertrand “Pollution, et si on traitait réellement le problème?” L’Humanité December 9, 2016
Marion D’Allard, “Bruxelles engage l’acte final de la casse du rail public” L’Humanité December 13, 2016
Marion D’Allard, “Libéralisation, dé régulation, la sortie de route des cars Macron” L’Humanité November 17, 2016
Marion D’Allard, “TERminus en Paca: Estrosi veut la peau du service public” L’Humanité October 7, 2016
Marion D’Allard, “La SNCF n’a plus les capacités d’investir” L’Humanité October 5, 2016
European Commission, “Rail Transport: Landmark deal will deliver better rail services to passengers” 2016
European Commission, White Paper. Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system 2011
Forum Social Transports, Fête de l’Humanité La Courneuve. 10 September, 2016
Romain Geoffroy, “Les «sans-papiers» sont-ils les seuls à bénéficier d’une réduction sur le passe Navigo?” Le Monde May 12, 2015
GISTI “Non à la fin du forfait solidarité transport pour les précaires sans-papiers!
Bettina Haidinger, Grenzenlose Mobilität – Grenzenlose Ausbeutung. Arbeitsbedingungen in Europas Transportwirtschaft(Vienna: Forba, 2016)
Béatrice Jérôme, ‘l’Ile de France supprime une aide aux sans-papiers” Le Monde 23 January, 2016
Stefan Kipfer, Julie-Anne Boudreau, Pierre Hamel “Grand Paris: the bumpy road towards metropolitan governance” in Governing Cities Through Regions: Canadian and European Perspectives, edited by Roger Keil, Pierre Hamel, Julie-Anne Boudreau, Stefan Kipfer (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2016)
Sophie Landrin, Richard Schittly et Laetitia Van Eeckhout, “La France désarmée face à la pollution de l’air” Le Monde, December 9
NPA (Nouveau Parti Anti-capitaliste) “Pour la gratuité des transports
Pascal M, de Crouy Chanel P, Corso M, Medina S, Wagner V, Goria S, et al. “Impacts de l’exposition chronique aux particules fines sur la mortalité en France continentale et analyse des gains en santé de plusieurs scénarios de réduction de la pollution atmosphérique” (Saint-Maurice: Santé publique France, 2016)
Région Ile-de-France Chiffres-clés de la région Ile-de-France 2016
Société du Grand Paris
Syndicat des Transports en Ile-de-France (STIF) Enquête global transport 1 (2012)
Syndicat des Transports en Ile-de-France (STIF) Ile-de-France à la page 331 (2010)
Syndicat des Transports en Ile-de-France (STIF) “La Solidarité transport en Ile-de-France

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If the 2016 presidential campaign was a national disgrace, the reaction of the losers is an even more disgraceful spectacle.  It seems that the political machine backing Hillary Clinton can’t stand losing an election.

And why is that?

Because they are determined to impose “exceptional” America’s hegemony on the entire world, using military-backed regime changes, and Donald Trump seems poised to spoil their plans.  The entire Western establishment, roughly composed of neoconservative ideologues, liberal interventionists, financial powers, NATO, mainstream media and politicians in both the United States and Western Europe, committed to remaking the Middle East to suit Israel and Saudi Arabia and to shattering impertinent Russia, have been thrown into an hysterical panic at the prospect of their joint globalization project being sabotaged by an ignorant intruder.

Donald Trump’s expressed desire to improve relations with Russia throws a monkey wrench into the plans endorsed by Hillary Clinton to “make Russia pay” for its bad attitude in the Middle East and elsewhere. If he should do what he has promised, this could be a serious blow to the aggressive NATO buildup on Russia’s European borders, not to mention serious losses to the U.S. arms industry planning to sell billions of dollars worth of superfluous weapons to NATO allies on the pretext of the “Russian threat”.

The war party’s fears may be exaggerated, inasmuch as Trump’s appointments indicate that the United States’ claim to be the “exceptional”, indispensable nation will probably survive the changes in top personnel.  But the emphasis may be different. And those accustomed to absolute rule cannot tolerate the challenge.

Bad Losers On the Top

Members of the U.S. Congress, the mainstream media, the CIA and even President Obama have made fools of themselves and the nation by claiming that the Clintonite cabal lost because of Vladimir Putin.  Insofar as the rest of the world takes this whining seriously, it should further increase Putin’s already considerable prestige.  If true, the notion that Moscovite hacking could defeat the favorite candidate of the entire U.S. power establishment can only mean that the United States’ political structure is so fragile that a few disclosed emails can cause its collapse. A government notorious for snooping into everybody’s private communication, as well as for overthrowing one government after another by less subtle means, and whose agents boasted of scaring the Russians into re-electing the abysmally unpopular Boris Yeltsin in 1996 , now seems to be crying pathetically, “Mommy, Vlady is playing with my hacking toys!”

Of course, Russians would quite naturally prefer a U.S. president who openly shies away from the possibility of starting a nuclear war with Russia. That doesn’t make Russia “an enemy”, it is just a sign of good sense.  Nor does it mean that Putin is so naïve as to imagine that Moscow could throw the election by a few dirty tricks.  The current Russian leaders, unlike their Washington counterparts, tend to take a longer view, rather than imagining that the course of history can be changed by a banana peel.

This whole miserable spectacle is nothing but a continuation of the Russophobia exploited by Hillary Clinton to distract from her own multiple scandals. As the worst loser in American electoral history, she must blame Russia, rather than recognize that there were multiple reasons to vote against her.

The propaganda machine has found a response to unwelcome news: it must be fake.  The Washington conspiracy theorists are outdoing themselves this time.  The Russian geeks supposedly knew that by revealing a few Democratic National Committee internal messages, they could ensure the election of Donald Trump.  What tremendous prescience!

Obama promises retaliation against Russia for treating the United States the way the United States treats, well, Honduras (and even Russia itself until blocked by Putin).  Putin retorted that so far as he knew, the United States was not a banana republic, but a great power able to protect its elections.  Washington is loudly denying that. The same mainstream media who brought you Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” are now bringing you this preposterous conspiracy theory with straight faces.

When intelligence agencies become aware of the activities of rival intelligence agencies, they usually keep the knowledge to themselves, as part of the mutual spook game. Going public with this wild tale shows that the whole point is to persuade the American public that Trump’s election is illegitimate, in the hope of defeating him in the electoral college or, if that fails, of crippling his presidency by labeling him a “Putin stooge”.

Bad Losers On the Bottom

At least the bad losers on the top know what they are doing and have a purpose.  The bad losers on the bottom are expressing emotions without clear objectives.  It is false self-dramatization to call for “Resistance” as if the country had been invaded by extraterrestrials. The U.S. electoral system is outmoded and bizarre, but Trump played the game by the rules.  He campaigned to win swing States, not a popular majority, and that’s what he got.

The problem isn’t Trump but a political system which reduces the people’s choice to two hated candidates, backed by big bucks.

Whatever they think or feel, the largely youthful anti-Trump protesters in the streets create an image of hedonistic consumer society’s spoiled brats who throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want.  Of course, some are genuinely concerned about friends who are illegal immigrants and fear deportation.  It is quite possible to organize in their defense. The protesters may be mostly disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters, but whether they like it or not, their protests amount to a continuation of the dominant themes in Hillary Clinton’s negative campaign.  She ran on fear.

In the absence of any economic program to respond to the needs of millions of voters who showed their preference for Sanders, and of those who turned to Trump simply because of his vague promise to create jobs, her campaign exaggerated the portent of Trump’s most politically incorrect statements, creating the illusion that Trump was a violent racist whose only program was to arouse hatred.  Still worse, Hillary stigmatized millions of voters as “a basket of deplorables, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.”  These remarks were made to an LGBT rally, as part of her identity politics campaign to win over a clientele of minorities by stigmatizing the dwindling white majority.  The identity politics premise is that ethnic and sexual minorities are oppressed and thus morally superior to the white majority, which is the implied oppressor.  It is this tendency to sort people into morally distinct categories that divides Americans against each other, every bit as much – or more – than Trump’s hyperbole about Mexican or Islamic immigrants. It has served to convince many devotees of political correctness to regard white working class Americans in the “fly-over” regions as enemy invaders who threaten to send them all to concentration camps.

Terrified of what Trump may do, his opponents tend to ignore what the lame ducks are actually doing.  The last gasp Clintonite campaign to blame Hillary’s defeat on “fake news”, supposedly inspired by The Enemy, Russia, is a facet of the growing drive to censor the Internet – previously for child pornography, or for anti-Semitism, and next on the pretext of combating “fake news”, meaning whatever goes contrary to the official line.  This threat to freedom of expression is more sinister than eleven-year-old locker-room macho boasts by Trump.

There will and should be strong political opposition to whatever reactionary domestic policies are adopted by the Trump administration.  But such opposition should define the issues and work for specific goals, instead of expressing a global rejection that is non-functional.

The hysterical anti-Trump reaction is unable to grasp the implications of the campaign to blame Hillary’s defeat on Putin.  Do the kids in the street really want war with Russia? I doubt it.  But they do not perceive that for all its glaring faults, the Trump presidency provides an opportunity to avoid war with Russia. This is a window of opportunity than will be slammed shut if the  Clintonite establishment and the War Party get their way.  Whether they realize it or not, the street protesters are helping that establishment delegitimatize Trump and sabotage the one positive element in his program: peace with Russia.

Adjustments in the Enemy List

By its fatally flawed choices in the Middle East and in Ukraine, the United States foreign policy establishment has driven itself into a collision course with Russia.  Unable to admit that the United States backed the wrong horse in Syria, the War Party sees no choice but to demonize and “punish” Russia, with the risk of dipping into the Pentagon’s vast arsenal of argument-winning nuclear weapons.  Anti-Russian propaganda has reached extremes exceeding those of the Cold War.  What can put an end to this madness? What can serve to create normal attitudes and relations concerning that proud nation which aspires primarily simply to be respected and to promote old-fashioned international law based on national sovereignty? How can the United States make peace with Russia?

It is clear that in capitalist, chauvinist America there is no prospect of shifting to a peace policy by putting David Swanson in charge of U.S. foreign relations, however desirable that might be.

Realistically, the only way that capitalist America can make peace with Russia is through capitalist business.  And that is what Trump proposes to do.

A bit of realism helps when dealing with reality.  The choice of Exxon CEO Rex W. Tillerson as Secretary of State is the best step toward ending the current race toward war with Russia. “Make money not war” is the pragmatic American slogan for peace at this stage.

But the “resistance” to Trump is not likely to show support for this pragmatic peace policy. It is already encountering opposition in the war-loving Congress.  Instead, by shouting “Trump is not my President!” the disoriented leftists are inadvertently strengthening that opposition, which is worse than Trump.

Avoiding war with Russia will not transform Washington into a haven of sweetness and light. Trump is an aggressive personality, and the opportunistic aggressive personalities of the establishment, notably his pro-Israel friends, will help him turn U.S. aggression in other directions.  Trump’s attachment to Israel is nothing new, but appears to be particularly uncompromising.  In that context, Trump’s extremely harsh words for Iran are ominous, and one must hope that his stated rejection of “regime change” war applies in that case as well as others. Trump’s anti-China rhetoric also sounds bad, but in the long run there is little he or the United States can do to prevent China from becoming once again the “indispensable nation” it used to be during most of its long history.  Tougher trade deals will not lead to the Apocalypse.

The Failure of the Intellectual Establishment

The sad image today of Americans as bad losers, unable to face reality, must be attributed in part to the ethical failure of the so-called 1968 generation of intellectuals. In a democratic society, the first duty of men and women with the time, inclination and capacity to study reality seriously is to share their knowledge and understanding with people who lack those privileges.  The generation of academics whose political consciousness was temporarily raised by the tragedy of the Vietnam war should have realized that their duty was to use their position to educate the American people, notably about the world that Washington proposed to redesign and its history.  However, the new phase of hedonistic capitalism offered the greatest opportunities for intellectuals in manipulating the masses rather than educating them.  The consumer society marketing even invented a new phase of identity politics, with the youth market, the gay market, and so on.  In the universities, a critical mass of “progressive” academics retreated into the abstract world of post-modernism, and have ended up focusing the attention of youth on how to react to other people’s sex lives or “gender identification”.  Such esoteric stuff feeds the publish or perish syndrome and prevents academics in the humanities from having to teach anything that might be deemed critical of U.S. military spending or its failing efforts to assert its eternal domination of the globalized world.  The worst controversy coming out of academia concerns who should use which toilet.

If the intellectual snobs on the coasts can sneer with such self-satisfaction at the poor “deplorables” in flyover land, it is because they themselves have ignored their primary social duty of seeking truth and sharing it.  Scolding people for their “wrong” attitudes while setting the social example of unrestrained personal promotion can only produce the anti-elite reaction called “populism”.  Trump is the revenge of people who feel manipulated, forgotten and despised. However flawed, he is the only choice they had to express their revolt in a rotten election.  The United States is deeply divided ideologically, as well as economically.   The United States is threatened, not by Russia, but by its own internal divisions and the inability of Americans not only to understand the world, but even to understand each other.

The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, are soon to be published by Clarity Press, with her commentary.

She can be reached at [email protected]

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Stunning Photos Show Huge Crack in Antarctic Ice Shelf

December 20th, 2016 by Dan Zukowski

NASA has just released new aerial photographs that show, close-up, an immense, 70-mile long rift in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica.

The breach is 300 feet wide and one-third of a mile deep. As it grows, an iceberg the size of Delaware will break off.

Operation Icebridge, in its eighth year of conducting airborne survey of polar ice, flew two missions in November around the 88th parallel. The highly sophisticated aircraft is equipped with radars, lasers, digital imaging and infrared sensors.

The Larsen ice shelf, in the East Antarctic, is of interest because two previous sections have broken off and disappeared into the sea. Larsen A collapsed in 1995. In 2002, Larsen B began to break apart. Within six weeks, a 1,235 square mile chunk of ice slipped away, which scientists attributed to warmer air temperatures. Prior to that, the Larsen B ice shelf had been stable for 12,000 years.

NASA’s Operation Icebridge prepares to fly another mission over Antarctica. Credit: NASA.

A 70-mile long rift in the Larsen C ice shelf was revealed in this image made on Nov. 10, 2016. Credit: NASA/John Sonntag.

The rift is one-third of a mile deep. Credit: NASA/John Sonntag. 

Close-up of the crack along the Larsen C ice shelf. Credit: NASA. 

When the Larsen C breaks off, it will create an iceberg the size of Delaware. Credit: NASA.

A view inside the cockpit of NASA’s sophisticated aircraft, which is equipped with lasers, radars, digital imaging and infrared sensors. Credit: NASA

 

Larsen C began thinning around the time that the other sections broke off, losing 13 feetbetween 1998 and 2012. But deterioration of the ice shelf has dramatically accelerated.

When the dark of the Southern Hemisphere winter lifted in August, scientists were shocked to see that the rift in the ice had grown nearly 14 miles.

“The growth of this rift likely indicates that the portion of the ice shelf downstream of the rift is no longer holding back any grounded ice,” said Joe MacGregor, IceBridge deputy project scientist and glaciologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Ice shelves ride on water and are fed by glaciers and continental ice streams. Cracks and calving are normal, and the loss of a portion of an ice shelf will not contribute to sea level riseas it is already afloat on the ocean. However, an ice shelf such as Larsen C holds back land ice, acting as a buttress. When a shelf disintegrates, the glaciers behind it can flow out to sea, which will directly increase sea level.

Long-term satellite observations show that Antarctic glaciers are rapidly retreating. In West Antarctica, they are losing 23 feet of elevation per year. As they slip away, they add up to 150 billion tons of water to the ocean, raising seas by about a tenth of an inch annually.

One of those glaciers, the Pine Island Glacier, calved off a 225 square mile iceberg in 2015. Ohio State University researchers found that the rift began at the base of the glacier in 2013 and worked its way upward.

“It’s generally accepted that it’s no longer a question of whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will melt, it’s a question of when,” said study leader Ian Howat, associate professor of Earth Sciences at Ohio State.

Britain’s Halley VI research station has to be moved to avoid being lost at sea.British Antarctic Survey

A separate rift in the East Antarctic is forcing a British research station to relocate. It’s on the wrong side of the crack and could be stranded out at sea.

Antarctica holds more than half of the planet’s fresh water in its snow, glaciers and ice formations. But conditions around the continent are worsening.

The NASA mission also flew over Antarctic sea ice. It found coverage to be sparse in the Bellingshausen Sea, on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

 

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

In November, Antarctic air temperatures were 3.6 – 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. Antarctic sea ice set a new record low, as did the Arctic. Antarctic sea ice was a staggering 699,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average.

“Antarctic sea ice really went down the rabbit hole this time,” said Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet could collapse entirely within the next 100 years.

“The collapse would lead to a sea-level rise of nearly 10 feet, which would engulf major U.S. cities such as New York and Miami and displace 150 million people living on coasts worldwide,” stated the Ohio State researchers.

NASA’s Operation Icebridge flights were based this year at Punta Arenas, Chile. Next year, the agency plans to fly from McMurdo Station in Antarctica in order to survey new areas. But, future missions may be in doubt. President-elect Donald Trump has suggested eliminating all climate research conducted by NASA, leaving Antarctica and the rest of the planet in the “dark ages.”

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Grecia – ¿Qué resistencia a la política del gobierno?

December 20th, 2016 by Thodoris Patsatzis

El jueves 8 diciembre había convocada una huelga general. Su carácter de “huelga general” se confirmó días antes, tras la decisión del congreso nacional de ADEDY (Confederación de trabajadores del sector público), que concluyó el 2 de diciembre, de participar en ella. La convocatoria fue lanzada por la GSEE (Confederación de trabajadores del sector privado). [A lo largo de los últimos cinco años, el número de personas trabajadoras en el sector público ha pasado de 936 000 a 567 000. En lo que respecta al sector privado, las últimos estadísticas dadas a conocer este lunes 12 de diciembre destacan que 54,47 % de los “nuevos empleos” entre enero y noviembre son empleos a tiempo parcial o precarios; según el Ministerio de Trabajo, la disminución de empleos en noviembre en relación al verano se estima en más de 37 000].

El poco tiempo disponible para preparar la huelga general tuvo su impacto en la baja participación. Lo mismo ocurrió con las manifestaciones celebradas en Atenas y en otras ciudades.

La burocracia sindical de ADEDY -ligada a los partidos que han apoyado las medidas de los memorándum pasados y presentes (Nueva Democracia y PASOK), junto con la representación sindical de SYRIZA- había propuesto para el 24 de novimebre una huelga del sector público independientemente del sector privado. Así que un sector de los trabajadores y trabajadoras -sobre todo del sector público- hizo huelga solo el 24 de noviembre (la fecha fijada inicialmente por ADEDY) y otros hicieron huelga solo el 8 de diciembre. En estas condiciones, los manifestantes que salieron a la calle el jueves 8 de diciembre decidieron, en su mayoría, no participar en los cortejos sindicales.

Así que, en su cortejo, la GSEE no reunió más de 400 manifestantes. Los únicos sindicatos que contaron con bloques significativos fueron los de EAS (Hellenic Defense Systems, industria de armamento) y el de OTOE (Confederación de personas asalariadas del sector bancario). En lo que se refiere a EAS, se cierne una amenaza de cierre de empresas o de privatizaciones. Para el sector bancario, después del acuerdo de recapitalización bancaria que se recoge en el tercer memorándum, se perfilan despidos en masa.

El cortejo de ADEDY tampoco reunió muchos manifestantes. Como se ha dicho, esta confederación dio más importancia a la huelga del 24 de noviembre y no preparó como es debido la movilización para el 8 de diciembre, dado que del 29 de noviembre al 2 de diciembre realizaba su congreso nacional. En cuanto a los trabajadores del transporte marítimo que habían votado una huelga reconducible hasta el 10 de diciembre, tampoco participaron activamente en la manifestación del 8 de diciembre. Habían organizado acciones fuertes durante los días precedentes.

En el conjunto del país, la movilización del 8 de diciembre no reunió a más de 20 000 personas (y el porcentaje de participación en la huelga, según los sectores, se estimó entre el 2 y el 10 %, lo que refleja no solo el cansancio sino la dificultad de perder un día de salario). En este contexto, en su mayor parte, los manifestantes se sumaron a los bloques de las organizaciones y partidos de izquierdas. Como de costumbre, el PAME -estructura de tipo sindical controlada por el KKE, Partido Comunista- organizó su propia manifestación. En Atenas, el PAME reunió entre 5 000 y 7 000 manifestantes; las cifras varían según las fuentes. Después del PAME, el sector de Unidad Popular y ANTARSYA, así como de otras organizaciones de izquierda extraparlamentaria, pequeños sindicatos de base y de las organizaciones anarquistas reunió alrededor de 5 000 manifestantes.

La movilización del 8 de diciembre traduce de forma clara la voluntad de las fuerzas de izquierda de combatir las brutales medidas de austeridad. Pero su influencia permanece difusa. No pueden, en el contexto socio político actual, ser un vector apto que estimule la actividad masiva de trabajadoras y trabajadores. Para serlo, una condición necesaria pero no suficiente, sería el construir un polo apto para preparar en un plazo determinado una movilización que tenga un carácter eficaz. Más aún ante las tácticas de la burocracia sindical partidista.

Inicialmente, las fuerzas del KKP votaron hacer huelga el 24 de noviembre. Después de la decisión del GSEE de convocar huelga el 8 de diciembre, el KKP desconvocó las huelgas anunciadas para el 24 por los sindicatos del sector privado que están bajo su influencia. En sus declaraciones, el KKP (por tanto, el PAME) dio más importancia a la huelga del 8 de diciembre. Pero no pasó de la retórica. Hubo que esperar hasta el 6 de diciembre -dos días antes de la fecha fijada- para que desarrollaran iniciativas en los sectores en los que su influencia es mayor.

La Unidad Popular, en parte a causa de su debilidad política y en parte a causa de su impotencia objetiva, subestimó la huelga. En el plano político, la opción de su dirección de expresar un euroescepticismo basado únicamente en la moneda (euro) se concretó en la decisión de no pedir a las secciones locales que prepararan y propagaran las consignas de huelga y manifestación. La única excepción fue la de las fuerzas de la Red Network y de DEA, integrantes de Unidad Popular.

Por lo que se refiere a la presencia sindical de la UP, hay que señalar que existen diferencias de orientación, lo que debilita el impacto en este plano de la UP. Militantes sindicales miembros de la UP y asociados a la Corriente de Izquierda de la UP (cuyo portavoz es Lafazanis) siguen presentándose en listas sindicales vinculadas al partido gubernamental SYRIZA, entre otros, en el sector privado. Un sector militante de la UP -proveniente de la coalición ANTARSYA- mantiene su compromiso sindical junto a las listas de ANTARSYA. Una tercera corriente de sindicalistas próximos o miembros de la UP -es decir, el ala más radical de la Corriente de Izquierda y militantes organizados en la Red Network– participa en las listas de META (corriente sindical creada inicialmente por SYRIZA que después rompió con la corriente sindical vinculada al gobierno). Ahora bien, las fuerzas de META están sobre todo en el sector público. Por tanto, dada la celebración del congreso nacional de ADEDY, el objetivo del 8 de diciembre también fue subestimado por META.

Por último, los militantes sindicales vinculados a ANTARSYA no pudieron ser un factor capaz de imprimir otra dinámica a la llamada huelga general. La coalición ANTARSYA tiene conflictos internos. Prueba de ello, sus miembros participaron en cortejos diferentes. Además, determinadas corrientes de ANTARSYA rechazan casi siempre participar en iniciativas unitarias planteadas por META. Por ejemplo, durante el congreso de ADEDY, su rechazo a participar en una lista unitaria tuvo como resultado que las fuerzas que podrían ser caracterizadas como de izquierda radical fueron incapaces de asegurar una presencia más efectiva en las estructuras de dirección, mientras que una lista unitaria habría permitido perfilarse como la segunda fuerza del sindicato del sector público.

Frente a la aplicación de medidas del tercer memorándum -y del cuarto que el gobierno de SYRIZA prepara- es urgente y necesario que de manera unitaria se organicen iniciativas de resistencia en los lugares de trabajo, en los barrios. El actual descontento y la cólera de una mayoría de la población contra los efectos concretos de los memorándum -sentimientos que pueden coexistir con el desánimo y el sometimiento- se observa en el acrecentado desgaste del gobierno pero no encuentra expresión organizada más allá de la que se puso de manifiesto el 24 de noviembre y el 8 de diciembre.

Thodoris Patsatzis

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All across the continent the continuing dependency on trade with the Western states has resulted in another round of uncertainty

Recent national elections in the West African state of Ghana were heavily influenced by the growing crisis in various economies throughout the region.

Ghana, which was hailed over the last few years for its phenomenal growth rates, during April 2015, was approved for assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) valued at $US918 million.

Ghana is no stranger to the IMF when during the final days of the First Republic led by President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) founder sought help from the Bretton Woods institution just prior to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and United States State Department engineered police-military coup against the socialist-oriented government in February 1966. Incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, the leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ruling party evoked the industrial legacy of the Nkrumah administration during the elections saying that he would revive at least some of the 600 development projects which were in operation by early 1966 at the time of the Washington-backed coup.

Over the last two years Ghana has suffered from inflation creating conditions for mass demonstrations demanding measures to improve the national economy. The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), which is the successor to the conservative and right-wing anti-Nkrumaist political tradition in Ghana, utilized the economic difficulties to accuse the Mahama administration of mismanagement.

In an article published by Lexology.com, it says of the present situation in Ghana that:

“Something had to give as West Africa’s second largest economy hit the buffers. When alternative financing options failed, Ghana turned to the IMF in April 2015 accepting a near $1bn extended credit facility. Some $465m has so far been disbursed to date and in September 2016 the country also raised $750m through a bond auction that was more than four times oversubscribed. Yet the new President faces a daunting task. While his party has a reputation for prudence, and being the party of business, in October the IMF said Ghana’s economic growth for 2016 will slow to its lowest for more than 25 years. Growth is expected to be 3.3 percent, the slowest since 1990 against 3.9 per cent in 2015.” (Dec. 19)

A change in government may not improve the economic situation inside the country. There have been conflicting opinions over whether the incoming NPP administration should renegotiate the terms of the IMF package. If there is no change in the character of the agreement it will illustrate clearly that the incoming government does not have any substantial ideas that would distinguish its approach to the crisis.

The elections in the small state of Gambia were also influenced by economic considerations in the largely agriculturally and tourist-based economy. President Yahya Jammeh, a former lower-ranking military officer who staged a bloodless coup over two decades ago, had initially accepted defeat in the polls. However, several days later, he reversed his view and rejected the results. His stance has prompted a regional crisis where a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was deployed to the country in efforts aimed at avoiding a constitutional dilemma.

Jammeh’s opponent, a businessman Adama Barrow, has expressed fears for his life. ECOWAS leaders headed by Nigerian President Muhammadu Burhari and Ghana President Mahama have threatened harsher action if Jammeh refuses to relinquish control of the state. Reports indicated that Jammeh dispatched troops to the electoral commission headquarters in Banjul on the eve of the visit by the regional delegation. Jammeh, in a nationally televised address on December 9 said there was overwhelming evidence that the elections were rigged in favor of Barrow who ran as a compromise candidate representing several other opposition parties.

Of course Nigeria, which has had its own share of political problems since its independence in 1960, is today confronted with a declining economy. Abuja as well was being lauded for outstanding economic progress when designated in 2014 as having Africa’s largest economy.

Nonetheless, with the decline in oil prices over the last two years, the most populous country on the continent has been declared to be in recession. Buhari has consequently come under criticism for not advancing fiscal policies which can effectively revitalize the economy.

Also the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast continues to cause difficulties for the government. Buhari had pledged to resolve the war within six month after taking office nonetheless this has not materialized.

Southern Africa: From Zimbabwe to South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Struggle Continues

Within the member-states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) economic uncertainty has been a major concern for the governments and the people. Zimbabwe has been under the yoke of draconian sanctions since 2000, when the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) ruling party embarked upon a sweeping land reform program which transferred ownership of commercial farms from several thousand descendants of British settlers to the African majority.

Despite the advent of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, the sanctions against Zimbabwe have not been lifted but intensified. Over the last few months a crippling cash shortage has surfaced where the former national currency collapsed years ago being replaced by the U.S. dollar as the medium of exchange.

Zimbabwe has now begun to issue bond notes in an effort to ease the shortage. Discussions over trade in consumer goods with neighboring South Africa have taken place as well.

The ZANU-PF National People’s Conference held in December in Masvingo, passed resolutions which give priority to solving the economic crisis. President Robert Mugabe, the First Secretary of the ruling party, maintains his undisputed leadership of the party while opposition groups continue fail to garner any semblance of political momentum in their stated objective of removing the former school teacher and guerilla leader from state power.

South Africa, the on-again and off-again largest economy in Africa, is also in recession like its Nigerian counterpart. The fall in prices for strategic minerals is largely to blame for the drop in the value of the national currency the rand.

A local governmental election in August witnessed a significant erosion in the percentage of the votes won by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. Although the ANC achieved twice as many votes as the leading opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA), its control of key municipalities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay were lost.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a SADC member, a controversy is escalating over the status of the administration of President Joseph Kabila. The mineral-rich state in Central Africa has been a source of imperialist intrigue since its national independence in June 1960.

President Kabila’s term of governance has expired yet there are no dates set for national elections. Opposition forces are organizing demonstrations demanding that Kabila hold elections. Nonetheless, no clear cut political direction is being articulated by the opposition. Instability continues in the east of the country on the borders with Uganda and Rwanda which have been a regional base of insurgencies seeking to destabilize the country.

Conclusion: Unity and Political Transformation Needed to Enhance Stability

Although most African states have been independent from European imperialism for several decades, the economic tentacles of international finance capital remains firmly intact. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who anticipated the deepening crisis of political economy in Africa as early as the 1960s, said that until there was a unified continent pursuing a socialist development program there would not be genuine independence and sovereignty.

Nkrumah’s 1965 book entitled “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”, states in the chapter “The Mechanisms of Neo-Colonialism” that: “In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.”

This same chapter continues noting how the western capitalist states:

“Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.”

Africa must defeat this renewed insidious form of foreign domination. The discussions within the African Union and other continental organizations should focus on this essential direction in order for the centuries-long legacy of slavery and colonialism to be reversed.

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El Colegio Electoral eligió este lunes a Donald Trump como presidente al fracasar el intento de provocar una rebelión para evitar su coronación ante la cada vez mayor sospecha de que el Kremlin intervino en el proceso electoral para llevar al magnate a su triunfo, y, por otro lado, resulta obvio que hoy uno de los diccionarios más reconocidos de Estados Unidos anunció que la palabra del año es: “surreal”.

Trump oficialmente obtuvo la presidencia de Estados Unidos al obtener la mayoría de los votos  los 538 integrantes del Colegio Electoral. Los electores acudieron a la capitales de cada uno de los 50 estados y en Washington DC para emitir sus votos en lo que siempre ha sido una formalidad, pero que este año captó la atención nacional.

En un esfuerzo inédito para intentar obstaculizar la llegada del presidente electo a la Casa Blanca, integrantes republicanos del Colegio Electoral fueron instados a votar por otro político republicano con el objetivo de voltear a suficientes para evitar que acumulara los 270 o más que necesitaba para coronarse. A través de correos electrónicos, llamadas, videos y súplicas públicas, se argumentó que Trump no tenía las cualidades para ocupar el puesto máximo de la república, que había perdido por un margen de casi 3 millones el voto popular, que sus propuestas son peligrosas para la nación y más aún, que aún se debe determinar si Rusia había intervenido a su favor en el proceso electoral.

Este lunes en varios de los capitolios estatales, donde acudieron los electores para depositar sus votos, hubo manifestaciones, algunas muy agitadas, exigiendo que los electores votaran “su consciencia” y salvarán al país de la “amenaza” que representa Trump.

Pero al final, sólo unos pocos rompieron filas (se necesitaba que 37 republicanos decidieran no votar por Trump para evitar que lograra una mayoría), y con ello el último paso formal para alcanzar la Casa Blanca fue concluido con el triunfo de Trump.

Tal vez la escena más notable fue la de Bill Clinton, uno de los electores en el estado de Nueva York, depositando su voto para su esposa en lo que obviamente pensaba sería parte de una celebración para su familia. En breves comentarios, consideró que  “al final, tuvimos a los rusos, y el asunto del FBI, y ella no podía prevalecer contra eso. Pero hizo todo lo demás y aun ganó (el voto popular) con más de 2.8 millones de votos”.

La falta de autocrítica por el liderazgo demócrata, desde Hillary Clinton y su esposo al presidente de su campaña John Podesta, los líderes demócratas del Congreso, entre otros, es sustituida con acusaciones de que la causa de uno de los peores fracasos políticos en este país fue la intervención de los rusos en el proceso electoral junto con la investigación y manejo público del FBI.  Según estos argumentos, los rusos lograron socavar al sistema democrático estadunidense, y colocar a su candidato, Trump, en la Casa Blanca. A pesar de que aun no se ha presentado ninguna prueba mas que declaraciones de que la CIA y otras agencias de inteligencia del país han concluido que el Kremlin estaba detrás de esta operación clandestina.

Ariel Dorfman, en un artículo publicado en el New York Times hace un par de días, titulado “Ahora, Estados Unidos, ustedes saben como se sintieron los chilenos”, recuerda la intervención de Estados Unidos, y en particular la CIA, contra el gobierno de Salvador Allende, que culminó con un golpe de Estado y la instalación de una dictadura que duró 17 años, “años de tortura y ejecuciones y desaparecidos y exilio”.

“Si, es irónico que la CIA – la misma agencia a la cual le valía nada la independencia de otras naciones – ahora esta gritando foul porque sus tácticas han sido imitadas por un poderoso rival internacional”, agrego.  Pero indico que no goza de esta ironía, ya que si resulta cierto lo de la intromisión extranjera, ningún pueblo “debe sufrir lo que nosotros que votamos en Chile tuvimos que aguantar.  Nada justifica que ciudadanos en cualquier lugar deben tener su destino manipulado por fuerzas fuera de la tierra que habitan”. Pero para superar el daño potencial al proceso democratico de tal intervención, sugiere Dorfman, Estados Unidos “no puede, en buena fe, denunciar lo que se le ha hecho a sus ciudadanos decentes hasta que este listo para enfrentar lo que hizo tan frecuentemente a los igualmente decentes ciudadanos de otras naciones…. Si hay un momento para que Estados Unidos se vea al espejo, para reconocer y rendir cuentas, ese momento es ahora”.

Por ahora, los Clinton y sus aliados no desean verse en ningún espejo, y más bien han abandonado el terreno de lucha, por lo menos en público. Pero otros que sufren las consecuencias de la derrota si se atreven hacerlo, al continuar un profundo debate sobre qué sucedió, cómo enfrentar lo que viene y sobre todo como no permitir que el fenómeno Trump sea “normalizado”.

Algunos recuerdan que Trump no gano el voto de una mayoría, y no representa al pueblo estadunidense. Según algunos cálculos, Trump conquistó la presidencia con el voto de sólo 23 por ciento del universo total de empadronados (aunque aun no hay cifras finales, los cálculos preliminares indican que 55 por ciento del electorado total participó en esta elección y Trump gano 46 por ciento del total de esos 128 millones que acudieron a las casillas).

Más aún, solo 41 por ciento de los votantes lo perciben favorablemente hoy día, contra 48 por ciento que no, y solo 45 por ciento expresan optimismo sobre él como presidente (21 puntos por debajo de Obama en enero de 2009, y 14 por debajo de Bush en 2000 cuando ambos estaban por ingresar a la Casa Blanca), según la encuesta más reciente de NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

Pero la sensación que impera por ahora es la de incredulidad que esto está sucediendo. Este lunes, el Diccionario Merriam-Webster anunció que su “palabra del año” para el 2016 es “surreal”.  La define como “marcado por la intensa realidad irracional de un sueño”.

David Brooks

David Brooks: Corresponsal del periódico mexicano La Jornada en Estados Unidos.

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President Obama admitted in his press conference on Friday that his government hasn’t released any evidence yet of Russian interference in the election, but he said some would be coming.

That’s proof that an uncritical press has already printed stories as if true without any evidence just on the say-so of the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization long dedicated to deception, disinformation and meddling in other countries’ elections, not to mention arranging coups to overthrow elected governments.

Forty years ago, the established press would have been skeptical to buy anything the CIA was selling after a series of Congressional committees exposed a raft of criminal acts and abuses of power by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Today’s journalists work for newspapers that fraudulently still bear the names New York Times and Washington Post, but they are no longer the same papers.

The vast U.S. news media also is not the same. The working journalist today is living off the reputation for skepticism and determination to get beyond government pronouncements that was established by their papers decades ago. Rather than add to that reputation, the credibility of the biggest newspapers continues to erode.

Both the Times and the Post should today be stained by their credulous reporting of official lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Instead of showing professional skepticism, the big papers became cheerleaders for an illegal invasion that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left behind a disaster that still reverberates today. Neither the Times nor the Post suffered any consequences and have picked up where they left off, still uncritically reporting anonymous U.S. officials without demanding proof.

On the contrary, any reporter who did demand evidence was in danger of career consequences. An editor for a newspaper chain that I was reporting for called me to chew me out because he said my stories were not in support of the Iraq war effort. He told me his son was a Marine. I told him I was sure he was proud but that my job was to report the news based on the evidence. On the very day when the invasion began, I was fired.

Of course, the television networks, including CNN, were most egregious for selling the war. I was shocked when I heard reporter Kyra Philips from aboard a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf gleefully announce: “Welcome to Shock and Awe!” just after a cruise missile was shown being fired. The people it killed on the receiving end were almost never mentioned.

CNN, which has accepted Russian interference in the U.S. election as a given, is also living off its reputation of a once very serious news organization. On its very first broadcast on June 1, 1980, Cable News Network aired as its second story a lengthy investigative report on faulty fuel gauges in commercial airliners. It broadcast an in-depth live report from the Middle East, and veteran newsman Daniel Schorr interviewed and challenged President Jimmy Carter.

But 1980 was when the period of skeptical, professional journalism that demanded proof from its own government started to decline as Ronald Reagan was elected. He worked to stamp out the skepticism bred from Watergate, Vietnam and the Congressional intelligence hearings. Reagan did this, in part, by resurrecting the most obvious and adolescent myths about America. And he worked with the CIA to manage America’s perceptions away from the critical thinking of the 1970s, as journalist Robert Parry has extensively reported.

There have been a few periods in American journalism when demanding proof from government was expected. The muckraking period led by Lincoln Steffens of the Progressive Era was one. The 1970s was another. But mostly it has been a business filled with careerists who live vicariously through the powerful people they cover, disregarding the even greater power the press has to cut the powerful down to size.

Egregious Case

The reporting on the supposed Russian hack of the elections is one of the most egregious examples of unprofessional journalism since 2003, particularly because of the stakes involved.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

There have now been a slew of stories, each of which seems to offer a new promise of evidence, such as one under the ludicrous New York Times headline, “C.I.A. Judgment on Russia Built on Swell of Evidence.” But when you read the piece, its only sources are still unnamed intelligence officials. A later 8,000-word Times article was the same, as though the length by itself was supposed to lend it more credibility.

If there were any doubts, Obama wiped them away with his admission that no evidence had been released. Worse still, perhaps, is that counter-evidence has been suppressed, another consistent feature of today’s journalism.

The former British diplomat Craig Murray, has written and told at least two radiointerviewers that the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta emails were not obtained by WikiLeaks through hacks, but instead from leaks by American insiders.

This story was totally ignored by established media until the Daily Mail in London reported it online, but incorrectly said Murray had himself received the leak. In the U.S., only The Washington Times reported the story, quoting the Mail. But that story took a swipe at Murray’s reputation, merely saying he was “removed from his diplomatic post amid allegations of misconduct.” In fact, Murray was let go for blowing the whistle on U.K. use of evidence extracted by torture by the corrupt Karimov administration in Uzbekistan. The rest of the Washington Times story just repeats what every other reporter has written about Russian interference.

Two Obstacles

Even if it were proven that Russian government operatives hacked these emails as part of their intelligence gathering, there remains the additional evidentiary hurdle that they then supplied the data to WikiLeaks, when the recipients, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, say the source or sources weren’t Russians.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a media conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit: New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

It’s also noteworthy that none of the information in the emails has been shown to be false. The leaks provided real insights into how the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders and revealed some shady practices of the Clinton Foundation as well as the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers that she had tried to hide. In other words, the leaks gave voters more information about Hillary Clinton, confirming what many voters already believed: that she was beholden to the financial sector and benefited from her insider connections. But none of that was particularly news.

It is important to note, too, that Obama himself in his press conference said there is zero evidence Russia tried to hack into the electronic voting systems. In fact it now emerges from dogged reporting by a local Atlanta TV station that the Department of Homeland Security appears to have been behind earlier attempted hacks of voting systems in several states.

So, it would be virtually impossible to prove that the DNC and Podesta emails were the deciding factor in the election. Indeed, before the election, pro-Clinton corporate media downplayed the email-related stories and Podesta said the emails may have been faked (although none of them appears to have been made up).

The emails also revealed numerous instances of reporters colluding with the Clinton campaign before publishing stories, something no hard-boiled editor from an earlier era would have stood for.

Democratic Misdirection

By focusing on the alleged Russian role now, Democrats also have diverted attention from other factors that likely were far more consequential to the outcome, such as Clinton largely ignoring the Rust Belt and not going once to Wisconsin or her calling many Trump supporters “deplorables” and “irredeemable.” Further, Clinton was a quintessential Establishment candidate in an anti-Establishment year.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And, there was the fact that in the campaign’s final week, FBI Director James Comey briefly reopened the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State, a move that reminded many Americans why they distrusted Clinton.

Yet, as the mainstream U.S. media now hypes as flat fact the supposed Russian role, there remains the inconvenient truth that the Obama administration’s intelligence community has presented no verifiable evidence that the Russians were the source of the leaks.

Demanding to see the evidence on Russia, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee called the CIA, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to a closed-door briefing. Though these agencies are obligated to show up in response to requests from their Congressional oversight committees, the three agencies flatly refused. Then, DNI James Clapper refused to brief concerned Electoral College voters whose votes for or against Trump may have been influenced by the news media frenzy about alleged Russian interference. Clapper reportedly is preparing a report on Russia’s “hacking” for Congress.

Political Strategy

The Russia fiasco appears to have been part of a political strategy that I first wrote about on Nov. 5 – three days before the election – that a fallback plan, if Trump won a narrow victory, would be to influence the electors to reject Trump when they assemble in state capitals on Dec. 19. Playing the Russian card was designed to appeal to the electors’ patriotism to defend their country against foreign interference.

President-elect Donald Trump in an MSNBC interview.

Assuming that Electoral College long shot failed, there would be one more chance for Clinton to stop Trump: on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to certify the election. The Clinton camp needs one Senator and one Representative to sign an objection to Trump’s certification (no doubt citing Russia) forcing a vote by both chambers.

If Trump loses – and there are a number of anti-Trump Republicans in Congress – the election would be thrown to the House where Clinton or a more conventional Republican could be selected as President.

Given those stakes for the American democracy and the risks inherent in U.S. relations with nuclear-armed Russia, the fact that the most influential establishment media has bought into this extremely flimsy story about Russian hacking should condemn them further in the minds of the public.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

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As pointed out yesterday, a recent tweet series by Club des Cordeliers made some interesting observation about the #StandWithAleppo propaganda campaign:

The “Stand with Aleppo” campaign in the U.S. was started and is propelled by a Democratic party operative who is also CEO of a public relations company and “strategic affairs consultant” in Chicago, Becky Carroll.

The Cordeliere made some additional remarks on anti-Syria propaganda. These about the U.S. directed Information Warfare campaign from inside Syria. This leads me to the thoughts below about the U.S. waged Unconventional Warfare in Syria and how it may be responsible for the elimination of “neutral” journalists on the ground.

We start with Club des Cordeliers remarks on the video campaign coming out of Syria and currently especially out of east-Aleppo:

US State Dep’t has openly trained Syrian “activists” in social media propaganda techniques since 2012. U.S. Embassy Geneva, Aug 21, 2012 U.S. Equipment, Training Reaching Syrian Opposition:

The State Department has $25 million in nonlethal assistance that it can use for training purposes, and [State Department spokeswoman Victoria] Nuland said “a broad cross section of activists” inside Syria and in neighboring countries is benefiting from an “extremely active” U.S. training effort that is focused on Syrians who have not left their country.“We are doing training on free media, countering the government’s circumvention technology, legal and justice and accountability issues, and how to deal with the crimes that have been committed during this conflict, programs for student activists who are encouraging peaceful protest on the university campuses, [and] programs for women,” Nuland said.

She added that the State Department has been working for years with Syrians and others on ways to counter Internet censorship, as well as supporting Syrian human rights and justice programs.

US trained Syrian contra propagandists via seminars conducted in Istanbul. St.Louis Public Radio, Dec 3, 2012 U.S. Steps Up Aid (But No Arms) To Syrian Exiles:

[T]he U.S. State Department is supporting Syria’s political opposition, in projects that have been under wraps until recently.One program, a multimillion-dollar media project called Basma, or “fingerprint” in English, is run out of an office in Istanbul where Syrian activists write and produce reports for a Facebook page and the Basma website. A promotional video explains the goals of Basma: “to support a peaceful transition for a new Syrian nation that supports and guards the freedom of all of its citizens.”

In another U.S.-funded program, kept quiet over security concerns, young activists, mostly those in the front lines in the early days of the revolt, are invited to Istanbul for workshops. They gather in hotels, from towns and villages inside Syria. They are now members of revolutionary councils — civilians trying to restore services and local government in places out of regime control.

Syrian “activists” given electronic equipment & technical instruction in State Dep’t-sponsored Istanbul trainings. Wired, Oct 25, 2012 Exclusive: U.S. Rushes to Stop Syria from Expanding Chemical Weapon Stockpile:

U.S. intelligence agencies are believed to be helping with the training of opposition groups, while the Pentagon denies shipping arms to the rebels. In public, American aid has largely been limited to organizational advice (Washington is trying to set up a council of opposition leaders in Doha in the next few weeks, for instance) and technical assistance. Several hundred Syrian activists have traveled to Istanbul for training in secure communications, funded by the U.S. State Department. The rebel leaders received tips on how to leapfrog firewalls, encrypt their data, and use cellphones without getting caught, as Time magazine recently reported. Then they returned to Syria, many of them with new phones and satellite modems in hand.

To NATO military strategists, social media propaganda is element of “winning the online information war” in Syria. Small Wars Journal, Apr 26, 2016 The Impact of Cyber Capabilities in the Syrian Civil War:

The events of the Syrian Civil War have clearly demonstrated the power of cyber capabilities in warfare. […] However, it would appear that all of the actors have used cyber capabilities for propaganda purposes. The use of social media, DDoS attacks, and the defacement of websites were all used to promote strategic narrative or to undermine and embarrass the enemy. Although all of these activities would fall under the category of information war, developments in social technology has increased the importance of winning the online information war. This is illustrated by the fact that most of the information that the public receives about the conflict is transmitted through social media.

Revealing chart outlining US Army Special Ops doctrine on use of electronic communication in unconventional warfare. FM 3-05.130 Unconventional Warfare, Sep 2008 Table B-1 – Information operations integration into joint operations (pdf)

Highly influential 1989 paper on Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) called for technology-driven psychological warfare. Marine Corp Gazette, Oct 1989 The Changing Face of War – Into the 4th Generation (pdf)

All this is to make clear that there is nothing random or organic about online propaganda produced by Syrian “activists.”

Bana hoax, Aleppo “farewell” videos, et al. should be seen as coordinated, strategic information warfare funded and organized by US actors.

Some additional thoughts on this.

A recent piece by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent points to the mass of propaganda about and out of Syria, mostly U.S. directed as shown above, and explains why we only see and hear this and nothing else: There’s more propaganda than news coming out of Aleppo this week:

[T]he jihadis holding power in east Aleppo were able to exclude Western journalists, who would be abducted and very likely killed if they went there, and replace them as news sources with highly partisan “local activists” who cannot escape being under jihadi control.

The precedent set in Aleppo means that participants in any future conflict will have an interest in deterring foreign journalists who might report objectively. By kidnapping and killing them, it is easy to create a vacuum of information that is in great demand and will, in future, be supplied by informants sympathetic to or at the mercy of the very same people (in this case the jihadi rulers of east Aleppo) who have kept out the foreign journalists. Killing or abducting the latter turns out to have been a smart move by the jihadis because it enabled them to establish substantial control of news reaching the outside world.

We have to see the killing and kidnapping of journalists as a (secret) part of the arsenal of the Unconventional Warfare and the U.S. created propaganda storm out of Syria.

The same applies to humanitarian Non-Government Organizations. Neither the United Nations, nor the Red Cross or any other neutral NGO had staff in east-Aleppo. Only the MI-6 propaganda outlet SOHR in Coventry provides numbers allegedly sourced from Syria. Only (U.S. trained) “media activists” on the Takfiri side report or tweet from inside east-Aleppo. Only these get interviewed. Only the U.S./UK created and directed “White Helmets” and the French government sponsored Takfiri “Aleppo Media Channel” produce pictures and videos from inside east-Aleppo. As this was the only available information source and sole available audio-visual material it was heavily used by news outlets around the world. It reflected solely the armed oppositions and its sponsors’ views and warfare needs.

If one intends to give a maximum effect to the propaganda output of ones proxies in an Information Warfare operation, it makes great sense to eliminate all other potential sources of information from the wider warzone. Thus – the abduction and killing of neutral professional journalists is a conscious process that enables their replacement with ones own Information Warfare assets. I believe we have seen such a process in Syria.

A similar process was applied earlier when the U.S. invaded Iraq. News outlets which gave a different than the official U.S. view were targeted by U.S. military forces. The Al-Jazeerah offices in Baghdad were bombed by the U.S. military. (The White House even consideredbombing the Al-Jazeerah head office in Doha, Qatar.) Wikileaks published a video which showed a U.S. helicopter killing Reuters staffers. Only journalists embedded with the U.S. military were protected against U.S. military action. Their reports were naturally heavily skewed towards the official U.S. propaganda view.

(On top of all of that we have to consider that even regular news outlets and journalists are often vehicles of intelligence services and as such far from neutral.)

The killing or abduction of journalists in a war zone allows their replacement with better controlled and more partisan assets. Just raising the (security) costs for real journalists has such an effect. A news outlet has to pay for professionally made news agency photos or videos. The U.S./UK propaganda operation “White Helmets” has produced hundreds of “gripping” and “emotional” staged rescue operation pictures and videos. It distributes those for free in “ready to be used” high quality. Many news outlets prefer these no-cost pictures even though their veracity is highly questionable. 

Keeping journalists away from the battle zone by killing or abducting a few of them at the beginning of the conflict helped enormously to increase the effect of the later Information Warfare operation known as “White Helmets” and other similar organizations.

This brings me back to U.S. Embassy Geneva report quoted above. In the very same speech in which U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland lauded the creationtraining and outfitting of U.S proxy teams for propaganda creation and other purposes (aka “media activists”) she also lamented the demise of real journalists in Syria:

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters August 21 that the United States has provided more than 900 sets of communications gear to groups and individuals inside Syria.

Nuland also offered condolences to the family of Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto, who was killed August 20 while she was traveling with Syrian opposition forces in Aleppo, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.Yamamoto, who worked for the Tokyo-based Japan Press, was caught in gunfire, the Foreign Ministry said.

Nuland also said the U.S. government had lost contact with two stringers reporting for the Alhurra television network who had reportedly been traveling with Yamamoto.

In an August 21 interview with the Voice of America, Reporters Without Borders spokeswoman Soazig Dollet said five foreign journalists have been killed since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, and that Syria “is now the most dangerous place for war reporter[s] in the world.”

The lauding of U.S. proxy media efforts and the (fake) lamenting over the killing of real journalists by Victoria Nuland in one speech were totally unrelated to each other – unless they were not. It was totally unintended that the resulting lack of real journalists in Syria amplified the effect of the U.S. Information Operation by proxy. Or maybe it was not.

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IMF Head Lagarde Found Guilty of Criminal Negligence

December 20th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

IMF operations make loan-sharking look respectable by comparison, debt-entrapping nations, obligating them to take new loans to service old ones.

The scheme assures rising indebtedness and structural adjustment harshness, including:

  • privatization of state enterprises at fire sale prices;
  • mass layoffs;
  • deregulation;
  • deep social spending cuts;
  • wage freezes or cuts;
  • unrestricted free market access for western corporations;
  • corporate-friendly tax cuts;
  • tax increases for working households;
  • crushing trade unionism; and
  • harsh repression against opposition to a system incompatible with social democracy, civil and human rights.

Nations are strip-mined of their material wealth and resources, sold off to private hands on the cheap. Democratic values are ignored, countries turned into debt-entrapped backwaters.

Middle class societies are destroyed. Workers lucky enough to be employed become wage slaves, entrapped in rotten jobs. Western monied interests benefit at the expense of ordinary people.

Bloomberg News reported Lagarde’s negligence conviction “by a Paris court over her (mis)handling of a multimillion-euro dispute during her time as France’s finance minister nearly a decade ago.”

Earlier I explained her $300 + million arbitration order benefitted tycoon Bernard Tapie, not the French government she was sworn to serve as finance minister, violating her fiduciary duty.

French Court of Cassation (its highest court of appeal) Attorney General Jean-Louis Nadal ordered the Tapie dossier made public, including allegations that “Lagarde had indeed acted in a way to defeat the law…to help Tapie gain a favourable decision, against an earlier” appeals court judgment for the state.

In pronouncing guilt on Monday, Judge Martine Ract-Madoux said Lagarde won’t be fined or imprisoned, the ruling against her little more than a slap on the wrist.

How it tarnishes her reputation remains to be seen. According to Bloomberg, “(t)he Washington-based (IMF) said it would meet shortly to consider the verdict.” In February, she was given a second five-year term as managing director, starting on July 5.

Given her service to Western monied interests, it’s unlikely she’ll be forced to resign. A February press release announcing her reappointment said “the Board praised Ms. Lagarge’s strong and wise leadership during her first term.” Why spoil a good thing by sacking her.

In July 2011, she replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, forced to step down over phony rape charges later dropped. He was targeted for backing more responsible IMF policies, and fear that one day he might become French president.

He called Troika Greek bailout terms “profoundly damaging…a “crippling situation,” adding:

In counting our billions instead of using them to build, in refusing to accept an albeit obvious loss by constantly postponing any commitment on reducing the debt, in preferring to humiliate a people because they are unable to reform, and putting resentments – however justified –  before projects for the future, we are turning our backs on what Europe should be. We are turning our backs on…citizen solidarity.

“Lagarde…was cleared of another count related to her initial decision to enter into the arbitration agreement,” Bloomberg explained.

She’s a club member in good standing despite her Monday conviction, a neoliberal hardliner, chosen to serve Western monied interests at the expense of beneficial social and economic change.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

 

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has secured control of Aleppo city after more than 4 years of fighting in what is Syria’s most strategically important city, second to the capital Damascus. Western media has chosen to explain this victory to the world as bad news for the interests of peace and humanity in Syria, claiming that thousands of civilians will now die from government retaliation.

The reason the battle for Aleppo is so significant in the Syrian proxy war is because of its strategic importance to the country of Syria as a whole. Controlling Aleppo would give opposition groups leverage in a situation where Syria is broken into pieces. It is also part of the geopolitical concerns over competing natural gas pipelines which would be built partially in Syria.

The battle for Aleppo has been described inaccurately for years and what follows is an explanation of 10 common lies or omissions which still continue today.

1. The city is still under total siege because of the Syrian Army and Russians

Aleppo is an ancient city and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, populated since at least the 3rd millennium BC. Aleppo is both a rural province and an urban city inside of it, which is about the same size as Washington D.C. by land area. Western media reports about the ongoing battle do not account for this and conveys the images that millions of people are trapped in an urban city where the Syrian Army and Russians will not stop bombing them. Aleppo had a pre-war population of over 2 million people. It is a center of commerce and trading with Turkey, as well as a conduit between the Middle East and Europe.

The battle for Aleppo has been intense and has destroyed significant parts of the city’s eastern neighborhoods. However, even at the height of the battle, western media reported claims that 250,000 people may be left in rebel-held areas and might die from starvation, water shortages, and lack of medical care. This number has been disputed and thought to be lower, however Russian officials say over 100,000 people have been escorted to safety from East Aleppo. Videos have shown thousands of people passing through corridors opened by the Syrian Army.

It is unknown how many civilians are left in the areas still under bombardment, but the scale of conflicting information is significant. There are no credible reports of how many casualties have been caused by bombing. The only specific number that western news has consistently reported claims 82 civilians have been executed by Syrian government forces in recent weeks, which comes from the controversial Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

BBC
It is hard to know exactly how many people are in the besieged areas, although UN envoy Staffan de Mistura put the figure at about 50,000. He said there were approximately 1,500 rebel fighters, about 30% of whom were from the jihadist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front. Other local sources say there could be as many as 100,000 people, many of them arriving from areas recently taken by the government.

Other reports claim what seems to be obvious, that East Aleppo is basically empty and most that are left are part of extremist groups or held hostage by them.

WASHINGTON POST
East Aleppo, which was under rebel control, is destroyed.

Syrian state television broadcast live footage throughout the day on Tuesday showing its reporters roaming through the ruins of the newly reconquered neighborhoods, trumpeting the government’s victory as they climbed over piles of rubble, peered into abandoned homes and sifted through the remains of rebel defenses. There was no other sign of life in the empty streets.

About half of the city was controlled by government forces prior to the major offensive to retake the city began in July. Many civilians have been killed by shelling from opposition fighters who fire randomly into these parts of the city.

Opposition fighters have contributed to the siege over the years by controlling the major highways into the city, especially the two roads leading west towards Turkey and other major cities to the southwest. The opposition-controlled these strategic highways until July 2016 when the Syrian Army was able to make enough gains on the ground to re-open the roads. Fighters used the roads to receive weapons and supplies from Turkey.

Aleppo city was the largest hub for distributing fighters, weapons, and supplies to other parts of Syria. Al Mayadeen recently reported on one of the weapons caches found in an East Aleppo basement after the neighborhood was cleared by the Syrian army. The bunker contained GRAD missiles, which are typically fired from a system mounted on a truck.

There were other military grade weapons found, with English language labels, and enough of each to mean the weapons could have only been shipped in by truck. If the opposition fighters could receive so many weapons and supplies into Aleppo from Turkey, why could the Syrian Army somehow stop critical food and medical supplies as U.S. officials claim?

2. The Syrian Army is blocking humanitarian aid to Aleppo, creating the crisis

U.S. officials blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for ordering the army to block aid delivery and remove medical supplies from shipments that do come in. They ignore any role the terrorists groups play in that, as reported in September.

TELEGRAPH
A convoy of 20 UN trucks carrying enough aid for 40,000 people is languishing at the Turkish border as diplomats try to secure agreement from both rebels and regime forces to allow the vehicles through.

“Some parties to the conflict are trying to use this for political gain,” said David Swanson, a UN spokesman. “The challenge for us is ensuring that all parties to the conflict are on the same page. If one element of the chain is not there we cannot proceed.”

The UN would not say if the hold was up was being caused by the Assad regime or its rebel opponents but at least part of the problem appeared to be inside east Aleppo itself.

Activists there said they intended to reject the UN aid in protest at the ceasefire agreement which was brokered between the US and Russia without input from the Syrian opposition.

Video from Aleppo showed a large demonstration against the UN had gathered at Castello Road, the key supply route that the aid convoy would have to travel down.

At least some of the demonstrators were waving the black flags of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), an al-Qaeda linked jihadist group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.

3. The rebels in East Aleppo are ordinary Syrians who are fighting a civil war against government abuse

While it is unclear how many civilians remained in Aleppo, what is known is that most of the fighters are from the official Al Qaeda group in Syria called Al Nusra, and other groups that have formed public alliances with them. There have been dozens of groups under different names that the United States has called “moderate” opposition, however, many of them were either in alliance with or commanded by Al Nusra itself.

Colonel Steve Warren, spokesperson for the U.S. coalition against Islamic State, said “it’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” in April 2016 prior to the Aleppo offensive.

In 2012, as the intensity of the war grew, thousands of foreign jihadists came to the city and helped take over neighborhoods in the east. Most of these fighters had no ties to Syria before the war and were given support and weapons by wealthy terror financiers from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Qatari foreign minister just pledged to continue sending weapons and assistance to these groups regardless of what Western allies do.

The war crimes committed and infighting with “moderates” became so bad that the U.S. government and the United Nations was forced to declare them terrorists after regional news reporting led the Washington Post to write that Al Nusra was the most effective and influential group on the battlefield. Al Nusra was then declared a terrorist organization by the U.S., other western countries and the United Nations. That was after almost a year of clandestine U.S. support as part of opposition groups.

The November 2012 article describes Al Nusra when they were still part of the popular term “Free Syrian Army” which was used by the U.S. to describe a moderate opposition who should not be bombed.

WASHINGTON POST
The Jabhat group now has somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to officials of an non-governmental organization that represents the more moderate wing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They say that the al-Qaeda affiliate now accounts for 7.5 percent to 9 percent of the Free Syrian Army’s total fighters, up sharply from an estimated 3 percent three months ago and 1 percent at the beginning of the year.

The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force. “From the reports we get from the doctors, most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line,” said a message sent today to the State Department by the moderate Free Syrian Army representatives, warning of the extremists’ rise.
—–
“In some areas, other extreme groups are merging with [Jabhat] al-Nusra, in others many are leaving it because they did not fulfill promises of support,” notes one report sent to the State Department.

In the chaos of the Syrian battlefield, smaller battalions drawn from neighborhoods or small towns are combining forces with larger groups to form brigades, many of them led by extremists. “This means more [mergers] of extreme groups within Jabhat al-Nusra as it becomes more and more franchised,” the report explains. “Their risk is paying off. They are on a high [rate] of growth.”

After this occurred, many groups began to merge and change their names, however, the majority of what became the Free Syrian Army has been proven to be made up of extremist groups who would otherwise be declared terrorists. The largest “moderate” groups in Aleppo, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and Nour Din al-Zinki have been prevented by the United States from being declared terrorists at the United Nations. The U.S. fought with Russia for months to keep these groups off the list of terrorist groups in Syria. This was a consistent point of failure in Syria peace negotiations. As a result, the groups continued to receive protection from America by including the groups in the Syrian ceasefire.

Ahrar al-Sham was known to consistently have over 20,000 fighters, despite frequent losses.

Jaysh al-Islam grew to 25,000 fighters by some recent estimates. Jaysh al-Islam integrated over 100 smaller groups, and led Syria’s largest remaining alliance, Fatah Halab as they renamed themselves in Aleppo. This alliance also included Ahrar al-Sham and Nour Din al-Zinki.

U.S. and Russian officials have been arguing over whether these groups should be targeted for bombing since they fight in the same areas as Al Nusra. The U.S. has claimed since February 2016 that it would persuade moderate groups to separate from Al Nusra, but it never happened despite the U.S. being in daily contact with them.

In response to this continued trend, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced Stop Arming Terrorists Act last week to ban funding of terrorists groups, whether direct or indirect.

HOUSE.GOV
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i]

“The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.

4. Rebels in East Aleppo are not terrorists. They are “moderate” and do not commit war crimes.

The most unbalanced part of Western news reporting on Aleppo is the deliberate effort to not report the war crimes committed by opposition groups, while confirming unverifiable claims about atrocities by the Syrian Army or from Russian airstrikes. Reporters have brought up this concern multiple times with U.S. officials and specifically when making the claim that Russian airstrikes hit hospitals in Syria but refusing to give evidence, twice.

In April 2016, Jaysh al-Islam admitted to using chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo. They have consistently used civilians as human shields, sometimes locking them in metal cages on the back of trucks.

The US also defended Ahrar al-Sham after they recently massacred an unknown number of people and kidnapped over 100 from the small village of Zaara in May 2016. State Department officials were confronted about specifically on May 24 with one reporter asking “Is this a yellow card? How many villages do they have to massacre before they become bad guys?” in relation to removing them from the protection of being declared a moderate group.

Ahrar al-Sham has was singled out for war crimes by Amnesty International just before the Zaara massacre. The Amnesty report also condemned the group for torture, kidnapping, and rape as well as using chemical weapons on multiple occasions.

Nour Din al-Zinki became most well known for beheading a sick young Palestinian boy on video which went viral on social media. U.S. State Department officials refused to condemn the group and still allowed them protection under Syrian ceasefire agreements.

The United Nations admitted last week that they received reports of opposition fighters shooting at civilians trying to leave East Aleppo, despite months of ignoring these claims. The U.S. State Department has also declined to admit the groups they call moderate have been involved in shooting at civilians.

INDEPENDENT
Take the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. After last week running through its usual – and perfectly understandable – fears for the civilian population of eastern Aleppo and their medical workers, and for civilians subject to government reprisals and for “hundreds of men” who may have gone missing after crossing the frontlines, the UN suddenly expressed other concerns.

“During the last two weeks, Fatah al-Sham Front [in other words, al-Qaeda] and the Abu Amara Battalion are alleged to have abducted and killed an unknown number of civilians who requested the armed groups to leave their neighbourhoods, to spare the lives of civilians…,” it stated.

“We have also received reports that between 30 November and 1 December, armed opposition groups fired on civilians attempting to leave.” Furthermore, “indiscriminate attacks” had been conducted on heavily civilian areas of government-held western as well as ‘rebel’ eastern Aleppo.

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi also confirmed that terrorists had turned state-run hospitals into command centers in a heated argument on the UK’s Channel 4 News.

The terrorists even had their own prisons and torture centers.

RUPTLY
Soldiers showed what appears to be militant flags, graffiti, and machine tools for making munitions, and even cells and alleged means for torturing captives.

SOT, Muhammad Hamud, Soldier, Syrian Arab Army (Arabic): “We released nearly 15 civilians. That was in a male prison. In Qadi Askar there was another prison which was a joint male and female prison. It was in the headquarters of the Sharia centre.”

5. People are unhappy the Syrian Army has taken over the city again

There is a reason the leader of the Syrian Kurds said it “would be a disaster for everyone” if the Assad government were to fall to the extremist opposition. The alternative to Aleppo city being controlled by Al Nusra, or worse, extremists could fight for control of it and further divide the region.

Western news reports described the victory in different degrees of terror, saying the people of the city were in shock at the army’s victory, ignoring the thousands of people celebrating in Aleppo areas controlled by the government. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby made the most controversial of the statements saying that he had not seen “any dancing in the streets” as celebrations were ongoing.

“I’ve been many times to Homs, to Maaloula, to Latakia and Tartus [in Syria] and again, Aleppo, four times. And people’s support of their government is absolutely true. Whatever you hear in the corporate media is completely opposite,” Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett described at a United Nations press event.

“And, on that note, what you hear in the corporate media, and I will name them – BBC, Guardian, the New York Times etc. – on Aleppo is also the opposite of reality,” she added.

6. Desperate pleas for help on social media by local Syrians show just how bad the situation is in East Aleppo

Western news media marketed a coordinated campaign of videos claiming to be average Syrian citizens pleading for international action to intervene in the Syrian war as the battle of Aleppo came to an end. A combination of children, social media activists and claimed independent journalists have been featured as genuine accounts from East Aleppo, however, these transmissions have been questioned.

THE FREE THOUGHT PROJECT
But there is one major problem with these well-articulated video pleas: these aren’t simple civilians of Aleppo, but bloggers and filmmakers – who have played active roles in supporting the regime change operation – who are now magically being given prime time slots for worldwide TV coverage. Interestingly, Aleppo has no cell service or electricity, so how these “civilian” videos are being recorded/disseminated is also an open question, which implies less than organic means.

According to Anissa Naouai, host of RT’s ‘In the Now’, a quick search of the Internet reveals the identities of these “civilians.”

A 7-year-old girl named Bana Alabed has become a known Twitter personality during recent months for her videos which are said to be recorded in Aleppo. Confirmed Syrian activist Maytham Al Ashkar contacted the account for Bana on November 27, offering to evacuate her family from eastern Aleppo. According to screenshots of conversations, someone who identified herself as Bana’s mother responded about a month later. The responses received led him to believe the account was fake and being operated by someone who preferred speaking in English instead of Arabic.

SPUTNIK
Bana’s account, designated by Twitter as “verified”, was set up three months ago, and has since gathered over 310,000 followers. The tweets, written by both Bana and her mother, Fatemah, who says she taught her daughter to speak English, depict life under siege in east Aleppo.

Many have called the authenticity of the account into question, pointing to videos where Bana appears to be reading from a prompt. It is also unclear whether Bana’s posts are genuine, since any user, anywhere in the world can post from the account, as long as they have the password.

Pro-government activist Maytham Al Ashkar is originally from Al-Zahraa in northern Syria, currently in Beirut, but often travelling to Damascus and Aleppo. He offered to help evacuate Bana and her family, contacting Bana’s Twitter account on November 27.

“This person was contacted by Bana, who told him she wanted my offer. Once he got my approval, Bana (the account) contacted me directly,” Maytham explains.

“When I got contacted by Bana’s account, I started to chat in Arabic since we are all Syrians and Arabic is our mother tongue. However, it was obvious that the person behind the account preferred English as a language of communication.”

Another problem has been the spread of false images represented as civilian casualties in Aleppo. One fake image of Aleppo violence was actually a screenshot from a 2014 music video.

7. The Syrian Army is now butchering people, executing civilians in the streets

If United States officials are watching the battle of Aleppo so closely, why has it not released any evidence of civilian casualties being caused by Syrian and Russian airstrikes? No satellite imagery, no pictures or video of large-scale casualties, no documentation of the alleged hundreds of bodies in the streets as claimed by news media like the New York Times. In the same article, the New York Times was forced to show pictures of the thousands of civilians being escorted to safety by the Syrian Army. Many pictures showed soldiers helping civilians, even carrying them when needed.

There have been genuine images from hospitals showing innocent civilians wounded in the fighting or people rescued from the rubble of buildings, but where are the images showing the mass casualty events described?

BBC
Syrian pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo have been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says. The UN’s human rights office said streets were full of bodies.

Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency cited a doctor as saying a building housing as many as 100 unaccompanied children was under heavy attack.

As noted earlier, the only consistent report of civilian deaths last week was the claim that 82 people were executed by Syrian government forces. The claim was reported as verified fact by most of Western news media, including ReutersBBCNew York Times.

The common source for these claims is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which sounds like an independent and official source, but is an unaccountable organization made up of sources on the ground who are kept private.

NEW YORK TIMES
Military analysts in Washington follow its body counts of Syrian and rebel soldiers to gauge the course of the war. The United Nations and human rights organizations scour its descriptions of civilian killings for evidence in possible war crimes trials. Major news organizations, including this one, cite its casualty figures.

Yet, despite its central role in the savage civil war, the grandly named Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is virtually a one-man band. Its founder, Rami Abdul Rahman, 42, who fled Syria 13 years ago, operates out of a semidetached red-brick house on an ordinary residential street in this drab industrial city [Coventry, England].

All sides in the conflict accuse him of bias, and even he acknowledges that the truth can be elusive on Syria’s tangled and bitter battlefields. That, he says, is what prompts him to keep a tight leash on his operation.

He does not work alone. Four men inside Syria help to report and collate information from more than 230 activists on the ground, a network rooted in Mr. Abdul Rahman’s youth, when he organized clandestine political protests. But he signs off on every important update. A fifth man translates the Arabic updates into English for the organization’s Facebook page.

8. The Syrian Army prevents civilians from leaving

It is reported that many civilians feared leaving East Aleppo for government-controlled areas because they might be tortured or killed. These reports cannot be verified and will not be trivialized here, however Russian officials noted that more than 100,000 civilians had been evacuated since operations began in November.

Wednesday, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a statement confirming it received reports that the opposition was preventing civilians from leaving, holding them hostage as human shields.

UNITED NATIONS
Alongside a pattern of indiscriminate attacks, the Commission has further received allegations of opposition groups, including the terrorist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Ahrar al-Sham preventing civilians from leaving as well as opposition fighters embedding themselves within the civilian population, thus heightening the risk to civilians of being killed or injured.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been seen on video leaving the areas of battle, being received by Syrian and Russian soldiers. Russia announced it distributed 35 tons of humanitarian aid this week in eastern Aleppo to civilians in need.

 

9. The “Regime” is slaughtering the opposition

In a show of restraint, Syrian government forces honored an agreement to allow militants in east Aleppo to evacuate the city with some of their light weapons. The deal was reached earlier this week between Turkey and Russia, without the influence of the United States. The evacuation of militants from east Aleppo has begun as dozens of buses were seen lined up on major roads beginning Wednesday.

RUSSIA TODAY
Nearly 3,500 militants from eastern Aleppo have surrendered to the Syrian government, while thousands have seized the chance to leave through special corridors with light weapons. The evacuation was partly halted on Friday after militants tried to leave the city with heavy weapons, which is not permitted under the agreement allowing them to exit eastern Aleppo.

It is also reported that opposition groups fired artillery shells at one of the evacuation routes, causing the process to be delayed.

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi has been one of the loudest supporters for the Syrian Army clearing the city of terrorists.

10. The Syrian Army is purposely destroying civilian infrastructure

One favorite propaganda lie told by U.S. officials when justifying war is that the dictator’s army is destroying public resources to hurt the civilian population.

As it relates to Aleppo, U.S. officials and allies have said that the Syrian government forces have purposely destroyed drinking water supplies to the city in an effort to hurt opposition fighters and the civilians supporting them.

However, in 2014, Al Nusra sabotaged the entire city’s water system while trying to target government-controlled areas. The Syrian Army recently restored the same water plant destroyed in this attack.

INDEPENDENT – MAY 12 2014
In a botched attempt to stop drinking water reaching government-held districts of Aleppo, rebels managed to cut off water supplies to large parts of the city in northern Syria including their own strongholds. Women and children are being forced to queue up with cooking pots, kettles and plastic bottles to get water from the fountains of mosques and wells that may be contaminated.

The water shortage started 10 days ago when the rebels, who control the two main pumping stations, tried to keep water flowing to their areas in east Aleppo, but stop it reaching the government-held west of the city. Describing the action as “a crime”, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that the al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel groups were responsible for the water shortage.

A member of the Aleppo Water Department told the Beirut paper al-Akhbar that the Sharia Authority, which unites the rebel movements, controls a crucial pumping station in the Suleiman al-Halabi region. He said that there is a “danger of insurgents pumping water only to the neighbourhoods that they control as it might lead to the collapse of the integrated water system”.

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It’s all over but the postmortems. The campaign to dump Trump fizzled. The only surprise was Hillary losing five elector votes.

Commenting on why he rejected her, Hawaii Democrat elector said “(t)hey can call me faithless, but the point is if we don’t think someone’s qualified – and Hillary Clinton I do not feel is qualified.”

Four Washington state Democrat electors dumped her. Three others in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota unsuccessfully tried switching their votes from her.

For the first time in US history, more than one elector defected. Trump swept all GOP delegates except two in Texas. One voted for Ron Paul.

Commenting on his triumph, Trump said “(t)oday marks a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation’s democracy.”

“This election represents a movement that millions of hard working men and women all across the country stood behind and made possible.”

“With this historic step we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans. Together, we will make America great again.”

Separately, he tweeted “(w)e did it. Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).”

Monday’s vote was Hillary’s third humiliating defeat – losing to Obama in 2008, defeated by Trump in November, and electors on Monday making it official.

They overwhelmingly rejected her, despite weeks of intensive media supported efforts to dump Trump.

The threat of the most ruthlessly dangerous presidential aspirant in US history ended with a resounding rejection of her unfitness to serve.

On January 6, a joint congressional session will certify Monday’s results, Trump’s inauguration to follow on January 20 – disruptive tactics continuing.

Inauguration day protests are planned to block his peaceful transition. From January 2 – 20, a Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) #Earth2Trump campaign promises resistance, demonstrations planned in over a dozen cities, concluding in Washington.

CBD calls for “rallying and empowering defenders of civil rights and the environment” to galvanize a network of resistance.

The organization headlined “The fight is on,” saying “(w)e must stand and oppose every Trump policy that hurts wildlife; poisons our air and water; destroys our climate; promotes racism, misogyny or homophobia; and marginalizes entire segments of our society.”

CBD urged supporters to sign a “Pledge of Resistance to Donald Trump’s Assault on America’s Environment, Democracy and Civil Rights.”

It accused him of a laundry list of offenses before he’s done anything. Its pledge states:

“I pledge to resist Trump through action.”

“I pledge to speak out, make phone calls, sign petitions, join rallies, support conservation and civil rights groups, educate my family and friends, and keep a compassionate, loving heart while fighting fiercely for the values I cherish most.”

What’s vitally needed is resistance against money-controlled duopoly governance, endless imperial wars on humanity at home and abroad, corporate favoritism at the expense of beneficial social, economic and political change, along with police state rule – policies enforced by both wings of America’s one-party state.

Grassroots revolutionary change, a real mass movement free from corporate encroachment is required.

Elections are farcical, voting a waste of time, ordinary people shut out entirely.

Wealth, power and privilege alone are served at their expense. It’s the American way, unchanged throughout its history – continuing for four more years, the process repeating each election cycle no matter who’s elected president.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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Aleppo: “Todos los muertos de Putin”

December 20th, 2016 by Guadi Calvo

La inminente conquista de Aleppo por parte del Ejercito Árabe Sirio (EAS), la única fuerza legal que opera en Siria y que obviamente responde al presidente Bashar al-Assad, ha hecho emerger de las cloacas del periodismo internacional los excrementos más nauseabundos que el oficio puede producir.

A cada metro que avanzan las tropas de al-Assad junto a sus aliados iraníes, rusos y del Hezbollah, centenares de operaciones de prensa intentan dar cobertura a quienes desde 2011 han martirizado Aleppo y toda Siria.

Rápidamente, han aparecido videos de las “víctimas” de al-Assad y Vladimir Putin, narrando los padecimientos que han debido soportar gracias a los ingentes bombardeos que el dúo de tiranos, a falta de otras ocupaciones más interesantes, decidieron perpetrar contra la ciudad más poblada de Siria, con más de dos millones de habitantes y que se ha reducido, literalmente, a escombros.

La última operación de prensa ha sido colar en las redes sociales testimonios desde el lugar de los hechos de hombres, mujeres y niñas, narrando su temor a una muerte inminente si los bombardeos de Putin no se detienen.

Nadie podría creer que en una ciudad densamente poblada, en guerra desde prácticamente cinco años, la población civil resultase indemne y libre de cualquier daño. Sin duda, los muertos, los heridos y mutilados, qué duda cabe, se deben contar por miles, productos de las acciones de una guerra que ni Bashar al-Assad ni Vladimir Putin han iniciado.

De esto sabe mucho el Pentágono y sus socios menores de Europa, ya que finalmente el término “daños colaterales” fue una creación “literaria” del Departamento de Estado para justificar sus “errores” a la hora de sus bombardeos contra ciudades repletas de civiles, durante la invasión a Irak en 1991.

Serían bueno recordar aquí, cuando de operaciones falsas de prensa se trata, que aquella invasión se produjo gracias al testimonio de una enfermera frente al senado norteamericano, por lo que entonces autorizó el ataque tras el conmovedor relato de una la enfermera que explicó en el recinto, con lujos de detalles, cómo las incubadoras de un hospital en Kuwait eran lanzadas al vacío por los soldados de Sadam Hussein, y sus pequeños ocupantes arrojados al piso para allí morir.

Poco tiempo después, se descubrió que la conmocionada enfermera no lo era ni había estado allí. La declarante era la hija del embajador kuwaití en Washington, Nayirah al-Sabah, que nunca había sido testigo del hecho, inexistente por otra parte, y que todo su relato había sido una actuación, armada y preparada por la CIA, para convencer a los senadores norteamericanos más renuentes a autorizar la invasión a Irak.

Los angustiantes relatos de las víctimas de las futuras bombas rusas, nada dicen de las aberraciones sufridas por esa misma población a la que dicen pertenecer a mano de las vesánicas tropas del califa Ibrahim, líder del Estado Islámico (EI).

Recuperar Aleppo de sus conquistadores es un golpe demoledor para ellos, pero para nada el final de esta guerra y de todo el andamiaje armado por el Pentágono y socios con la operación “Primavera Árabe”.

Con la reconquista de Aleppo, junto a Damasco y Homs, los grandes centros urbanos de la “Siria Fértil”, las fuerzas del presidente al-Assad obligan a retirarse hacia las fronteras, zonas marginales y desérticas a las tropas invasoras. Según el Observatorio Sirio de Derechos Humanos, los invasores hoy sólo controlan el 15% del territorio sirio. La última provincia en manos de las fuerzas invasoras, Idlib, en el noroeste del país, donde resisten gracias a un complejo conglomerado de fundamentalistas islámicos llegado de casi todos los rincones del mundo, que se fueron incorporando a las múltiples organizaciones wahabitas que han operado en Siria como el ahora reconvertido en fuerza “moderada”, Jabhat Fateh al Sham (antes frente al-Nusra, al-Qaeda sirio) y  el Daesh, junto a mercenarios y comandos británicos, franceses, israelíes y desertores del ejército sirio, con lo que se conoció como el Ejercito Libre Sirio (ELS).

La guerra contra Siria ha marcado sin duda para el mundo un hecho histórico y un punto de inflexión en el intento de dominación de las naciones centrales contra aquellos países que han optado por una manera independiente de posicionarse frente al poder.

Libia es el más contundente ejemplo de un país que ha sido vencido en su resistencia frente a la invasión, y pasó de ser el país africano con más altos índices de bienestar ha quedar reducido a la categoría de “Estado Fallido”, sólo semejante a Somalia, en apenas cuatro años. Siria, que ahora parece estar cerca de la victoria gracias a la ayuda de sus aliados, sin bien puede resultar triunfante, emergerá absolutamente devastada, con heridas económicas y fundamentalmente sociales, que sin duda tardarán muchas décadas en sanar.

Después de Aleppo

Desde los subsuelos de Aleppo emerge un nuevo mapa, ya no sólo de Siria, sino en la política internacional. Las patéticas acciones del tándem Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton, a la sazón Secretaria del Departamento de Estado en el inicio de la “Primavera Árabe”, han sido junto a Afganistán el más grande fracaso de las políticas exteriores de Estados Unidos desde la derrota en la guerra de Vietnam.

Rusia y China, que respecto a Siria no se permitieron cometer el mismo error que en Libia, al no vetar la resolución 1973 del Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas que habilitó los bombardeos por parte de la OTAN sobre el país de la Jamahiriya (Estado de las masas) destruyendo su fuerza área, lo que aceleró su derrota.

Pekín y Moscú vetaron cualquier resolución similar sobre Siria, lo que le dio aire, en todo sentido, a Damasco para resistir la invasión iniciada en 2011.

El episodio del barrio damasquino de al-Ghuta en agosto de 2013, una operación de falsa bandera rápidamente desactivada, por la que se pretendía responsabilizar a Bashar al-Assad del uso de armas químicas, en el hecho fueron detectados 15 agentes del Mossad y murieron intoxicados entre 1800 y 2500 civiles, dio a Barak Obama ínfulas para autorizar el bombardeo de Siria, lo que obligó entonces a Moscú a ponerse en pie de guerra de producirse el ataque.

Desde aquellos días, el presidente Vladimir Putin no sólo fue tomando más injerencia en el conflicto sirio, sino que a nivel mundial su figura adquirió una representación que no había logrado ningún líder ruso desde los tiempos de Nikita Kruschev y hoy representa, con su sola presencia, un factor de poder político que quizás no tenga ningún líder occidental.

Por otra parte, la guerra contra Siria estableció una alianza entre Rusia, China y el mundo chií, entiéndase Siria, Irán, grandes sectores de Irak y el Hezbollah libanés, impensable hace un par de año, que prácticamente extermina la troika de Arabia Saudita, Qatar y Turquía, a los que su injerencia en Siria les ha despertado conflictos internos de consecuencia todavía pendientes. La ecuación siria ha dado al mapa de Medio Oriente una nueva lectura, que podría dejar todavía más aislado a Israel.

Esta nueva situación es por la que ahora les hace reclamar a todos los organismos internacionales nuevas conversaciones de paz, alto el fuego y acciones humanitarias respecto a la población civil, que ellos mismos no permitieron y a la vez alentaron a ser masacrados, sólo por forzar la salida del presidente Bashar al-Assad.

Obama, y su caterva de secuaces, deja su gobierno cargando varios millones de muertos, mutilados y desplazados; países en ruina absoluta y guerras civiles en pleno desarrollo o a punto de estallar, sin que ningún organismo internacional parezca dispuesto a sentarlo en un tribunal para que dé cuenta de su genocidio.

Sin embargo, estos mismos organismos y sus empleados de prensa son los mismos que a acusan a Vladimir Putin y Bashar al-Assad de ser responsable de todos los muertos de Aleppo.

Gaudi Calvo

Guadi Calvo: Escritor y periodista argentino, analista internacional especializado en África, Medio Oriente y Asia Central.

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Los economistas no son muy buenos en Economía. Permanentemente se nos recuerda este hecho cuando vemos a la economía actuar de forma que coge a la mayor parte de la profesión por completa sorpresa.

El ejemplo más obvio es el de la burbuja inmobiliaria, cuyo colapso nos trajo la crisis financiera y la Gran Recesión. Casi ningún economista vio la burbuja o los potenciales peligros planteados por su estallido. Pero esto es solo el principio de lo que los economistas se equivocaron en los últimos años.

No solo la burbuja y su colapso les cogieron por sorpresa, la recuperación acabó siendo mucho más débil de lo que casi todos predijeron. En parte, esto se debió a las políticas de austeridad reclamadas por el Congreso, pero incluso teniendo en cuenta estas políticas, no vimos el crecimiento rápido previsto por la Oficina Presupuestaria Congresual (CBO) y otros analistas. En 2010, la CBO proyectó un crecimiento medio del PIB del 4,4 por ciento para los años que van entre 2012 y 2014. El número real fue menor que la mitad de esta cantidad.

La burbuja inmobiliaria no fue la primera burbuja que la CBO y otros analistas fallaron en ver. El colapso de la burbuja bursátil, que nos trajo la recesión de 2001, también cogió a casi todos los analistas económicos por sorpresa. En resumen, la habilidad de los economistas para predecir la futura situación de la economía, o entender su estado actual, es realmente pobre.

Esta historia es relevante a la hora de evaluar los planes de Donald Trump sobre infraestructuras y bajadas de impuestos porque mucho de lo que los economistas afirman acerca de estos planes es probable que esté equivocado. Solo para ser claros, de todo lo que hemos escuchado hasta la fecha, tanto los planes de infraestructuras como los planes fiscales parecen ante todo diseñados para hacer más ricos a los ricos amigos de Trump.

Un plan de infraestructuras centrado en una desgravación fiscal del 82 por ciento suena a una manera elegante de decir “robar a los contribuyentes.” El plan de bajadas de impuestos, que entregará la abrumadora mayoría de los beneficios a las personas más ricas del país, convertirá la desigualdad en mucho peor. Éstas no son políticas bien diseñadas si el propósito de ellas es promover el crecimiento económico y ayudar a aquellos con quienes no se ha compartido el crecimiento económico de las últimas cuatro décadas.

Pero un argumento que es probable que escuchemos contra estos planes no es verdad: que no podemos pagarlos. Si bien el tamaño de las bajadas de impuestos y el gasto adicional pueden situar realmente a la economía más allá de su nivel de pleno empleo de salida, no necesitamos preocuparnos de que empuje al Gobierno al borde de la bancarrota.

El resultado del déficit excesivo sería algo de inflación más alta, que presumiblemente estimularía a la Reserva Federal a subir los tipos de interés. Una inflación y unos tipos de interés más altos son indeseables, pero son un riesgo que merece la pena correr.

A pesar del hecho de que la tasa de desempleo es de un 4,6 por ciento, una tasa relativamente baja, la tasa de ocupación de los trabajadores de entre 25 y 54 años de edad está aún dos puntos porcentuales más baja que en su pico más alto pre-recesión. Es más baja por casi cuatro puntos porcentuales que en su punto álgido en 2000.

Esto se corresponde a más de 2,5 millones de personas menos trabajando hoy que si tuviésemos la misma tasa de actividad que teníamos en el punto álgido de 2007 y casi 5 millones menos que si la comparamos con el punto más alto de 2000. Estos trabajadores adicionales serían negros y latinos desproporcionadamente, así como personas con menor nivel de estudios. Además, el endurecimiento del mercado laboral incrementaría enormemente el poder negociador de estos grupos relativamente desventajados, permitiendo a grandes segmentos de la fuerza de trabajo ver auténticas subidas salariales.

La mayoría de los economistas han aceptado, por alguna razón, que la caída de la tasa de actividad que hemos visto desde 2007, y especialmente desde 2000, es irreversible. Incluso aunque casi ninguno había esperado que la tasa de ocupación en la población de entre 25 y 54 años cayese en aquél momento (ninguna de las previsiones oficiales predijo estas caídas), los economistas están sobre todo felices de ratificar estas caídas tras ser un hecho y afirmar que no puede hacerse nada. Esto significa, por ejemplo, que el Consejo de Gobierno de la Reserva Federal incrementaría las tasas de interés, como hará esta semana, para ralentizar la economía y evitar que la tasa de ocupación mencionada crezca más.

Ya que los argumentos económicos están determinados ante todo por la autoridad más que por la prueba, sería virtualmente imposible ganar un argumento sobre que debería permitirse a la economía crecer lo más rápidamente posible para hacer a la tasa de ocupación crecer más rápido contra la corriente principal de la profesión.

Sin embargo, si el impulso a la demanda de un programa de infraestructuras permite un crecimiento más alto de la tasa de ocupación, entonces tendremos hechos sobre la tabla que serán innegables. Si la tasa de ocupación de las personas entre 25 y 54 años crece realmente de uno a dos puntos porcentuales, o incluso más, de tres a cuatro puntos, entonces será imposible negar que de hecho, podríamos regresar a los niveles de pre-recesión de 2000. Esto podría marcar un nuevo punto de referencia para una política para una década o más allá.

Vimos exactamente este proceso en funcionamiento en los años 90. En aquél momento, casi todos los economistas serios insistían en que no podríamos alcanzar una tasa de desempleo menor al seis por ciento sin activar una espiral inflacionista. Afortunadamente, el entonces presidente de la Reserva Federal, Alan Greenspan, no era un economista convencional. No aceptó este argumento.

Más allá de incrementar las tasas de interés y ahogar la recuperación, permitió que la tasa de desempleo cayese al 4 por ciento de promedio anual en 2000. Esto dio a millones de trabajadores empleos e incrementos salariales a decenas de millones. Además descendió permanentemente los objetivos de desempleo utilizados para establecer la política fiscal y monetaria.

Trump puede lograr el mismo truco con sus políticas. Los republicanos están aterrorizados por el déficit cuando un demócrata está en la Casa Blanca, pero se encuentran a gusto con él cuando tienen a un republicano como presidente. Aunque debemos combatir muchas políticas horribles de la agenda de Trump, en realidad puede haber una enorme bonificación si tiene éxito en empujar la economía hacia el pleno empleo. Esto puede beneficiar a los trabajadores, y especialmente a los trabajadores menos aventajados, por muchos años.

Dean Baker

Dean Baker: Economista estadounidense, cofundador y codirector del Center for Economic and Policy Research.

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Bajo el gobierno de Obama entre 2009 y 2015 se concretó la expulsión de tres millones de inmigrantes. Es un récord. No hay ningún otro Presidente en toda la historia de Estados Unidos de América que haya hecho tanto daño a los inmigrantes. Y ahora, los apoyantes de Obama, Clinton, los demócratas, están atacando al señor Trump porque propone expulsar más. El año pasado, Obama expulsó 250.000 mexicanos, sólo en el año 2015. En otras palabras, es una farsa esto: Cuando los demócratas están fuera del gobierno defienden los inmigrantes pero cuando están en el gobierno expulsan más que nadie”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano, profesor James Petras en su columna de los lunes por Radio Centenario (CX36). Agregó que “No hay dudas de que debemos luchar hasta las últimas consecuencias contra Trump, pero no debemos olvidar las traiciones, expulsiones y la política reaccionaria de Obama” y subrayó que Trump “es una continuación, más que una ruptura”. 

Efraín Chury Iribarne: Vamos a conectarnos como cada lunes con James Petras en los Estados Unidos. James, buenos días. Bienvenido a la 36.

James Petras: Buen día, muchas gracias por la invitación. Aquí tenemos menos diez grados, es un buen día para quedarse adentro y leer un buen libro.

EChI: Si me imagino.

Si te parece, comencemos con lo que está pasando en Siria, que con el apoyo de Rusia han mantenido una entente de paz en una región enormemente convulsionada.

JP: Es un panorama bastante complejo, para decir la verdad.

Hemos visto los grandes desafíos en los Estados Unidos, donde hemos visto como ha caído el apoyo al gobierno de Obama, los otros candidatos demócratas han fracasado y (Donald) Trump ha llegado al poder. Y actualmente los golpistas encabezados por el señor Obama, está tratando de derrocar al gobierno y los próximos gobernantes, donde el señor Trump ha designado a una serie de dirigentes de la ultraderecha contra hasta la Educación Pública, la Salud Pública, etc.

Más allá de eso no podemos decir más sobre el Medio Oriente que sigue siendo un lugar de grandes conflictos, donde Estados Unidos sigue –a pesar de las protestas- apoyando a los terroristas llamándolos “rebeldes” que no son nada rebeldes, sino que son mercenarios de Arabia Saudita, Turquía y los propios Estados Unidos.

Pero podemos anotar varias cosas positivas.

Primero, China sigue siendo el poder más importante en Asia y ofrece varias alternativas de la militarización norteamericana.

También podemos anotar que en América Latina esta ola derechista está en una gran crisis, en una situación imposible, tanto por los gobernantes como por la política económica que aplican, que siguen perjudicando a las grandes mayorías, por lo que tienen menos apoyo y más crisis.

Entonces, podríamos decir que la ola derechista no ha ganado tanta fuerza, los neoliberales están en repliegue, y Washington ha perdido terreno pero sigue con las agresiones y últimamente amenazas hacia Rusia con la falsificación de su involucramiento en las elecciones estadounidenses.

No hay ninguna transformación social que pudiéramos anotar como progresista, pero también debemos anotar como la alternativa derechista ha fracasado. Se da un empate entre el progreso y la reacción.

Al final de cuentas, podemos decir que seguimos avanzando en la lucha pero todavía no hemos visto a ninguna fuerza capaz de transformar las sociedades a una situación de mayor justicia social, menos hacia el socialismo, en este momento.

Pero no hemos sufrido una gran derrota histórica, hemos caído hacia una situación de retroceso, pero no como hemos sufrido en los años ’70 con los golpes militares. No ha ocurrido eso. Los gobernantes de la derecha con todas sus fuerzas no lograron destruir los movimientos y las capacidades de lucha.

Por otro lado, podemos decir que la derecha ha hecho –y sigue haciendo- mucho daño; y tenemos que estudiar también las rivalidades entre las fuerzas burgueses imperiales. En

Estados Unidos por ejemplo, la lucha entre el golpismo derechista de Obama-Clinton y el ultraderechismo de Trump; tenemos el conflicto en Inglaterra entre los ‘brexit’ y los ‘no brexit’; tenemos el conflicto entre el ultraneoliberalismo de (François) Fillon y las fuerzas nacionalistas conservadoras de (Marine) Le Pen, o por lo menos una posición que podemos decir, quiere dar la vuelta contra el neoliberalismo con el respaldo de la lucha anti-inmigrantes. Y tenemos la gran tragedia de los inmigrantes producto de las guerras imperiales que han sufrido mucho por la exposición, con asesinatos y muertes en el camino, mientras siguen siendo rechazados por los países europeos.

Entonces, no podemos decir con alegría que hemos terminado un año de éxitos, pero tampoco podemos llorar porque las fuerzas populares están intactas y en pie de lucha.

EChI: El Congreso de Brasil pidió el presidente interino de Brasil Michel Temer, entregar informes que permitan adelantar una investigación contra el mandatario argentino Mauricio Macri por el caso de los Panama Papers.

La solicitud se da ante la escasa cooperación del Brasil con la Justicia argentina sobre el caso que involucra a Macri con el lavado de 9,3 millones de dólares en paraísos fiscales”; dice una información que acaba de entrar.

JP: Es una denuncia que debe avanzar, pero simplemente una investigación del Congreso sin peso atrás, sin capacidad de imponer las decisiones de los elegidos, no creo que avancen ni mucho menos logren derrocar al gobierno o encarcelarlo.

Tenemos muchos casos de estafas en los primeros días, incluso antes de las elecciones, por parte de los nombrados en el gabinete de Macri. Ahora, es bueno que lo denuncien y muestren al pueblo el nivel de corrupción y la falta de ética del gobierno, la ilegalidad constitucional del gobierno y más que nada la ilegitimidad.

Pero si hay un levantamiento masivo, tendría toda la razón por el gobierno incumplir con las medidas legislativas si no acepta las decisiones judiciales.

Pero debemos reconocer que son medidas positivas, pero no son suficientes antes de desplazar y judicializar a Macri, algo más se necesita. Y en eso quiero enfatizar. Porque los corruptos burócratas de la CGT, el sindicato principal, están en el mismo proceso de adaptarse a Macri y ese es el último respaldo que le queda, con los negociadores más corruptos del sindicalismo latinoamericano. Debemos esperar que las bases populares superen ese problema como lo hicieron en 2001.

EChI: El presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, ha denunciado que su país está siendo víctima de un sabotaje internacional para que los nuevos billetes no puedan ser trasladados al país.

JP: Si, yo creo que hay algún sabotaje en la trasferencia. Y obviamente la CIA está involucrada en cualquier forma de perjudicar al gobierno. Pero más allá de eso son los brotes violentos, el saqueo de sectores de la pequeña y mediana burguesía, en las tiendas particularmente y el comercio en general.

Podríamos decir que la circulación de nuevos billetes no toca lo fundamental del problema en Venezuela y esperamos que Maduro se ponga a trabajar en la reactivación de la economía y buscar medidas para aliviar los problemas de consumo y de inflación. Simplemente mandando más billetes de 500 en vez de 100, en las circunstancias actuales, van a devaluar los nuevos billetes y puede crecer el problema y encima con más billetes, los de diez mil bolívares y otros.

Entonces el problema de fondo es enfrentar los problemas del capitalismo no funcional y la incapacidad de arrancar la economía.  Creo que eso es fundamental.

La militarización actual está frenando el golpe inmediato, pero más allá de eso en un mediano plazo, tiene que rectificar la economía, o sea militarizar toda la economía y nacionalizar los bancos, y seguir con un programa de emergencia para generar algún crecimiento económico y buscar forma de aliviar los problemas inmediatos del pueblo que son graves.

EChI: Petras, como siempre, al final te dejamos para que nos comentes sobre otros temas de  tu interés.

JP: Hay una cosa simplemente que quiero tocar y es el hecho de que aquí en Estados Unidos hemos recibidos las cifras sobre la expulsión de inmigrantes.

Bajo el gobierno de Obama hemos visto la expulsión de tres millones de inmigrantes, entre 2009 y 2015. Tres millones de inmigrantes expulsados por Obama.

Es un récord. No hay ningún otro Presidente, en toda la historia de Estados Unidos de América que haya hecho tanto daño a los inmigrantes. Y ahora, los apoyantes de Obama, Clinton, los demócratas, están atacando al señor Trump porque propone expulsar más.

El año pasado, Obama expulsó 250.000 mexicanos, sólo en el año 2015.

En otras palabras, es una farsa esto. Cuando los demócratas están fuera del gobierno defienden los inmigrantes pero cuando están en el gobierno expulsan más que nadie.

Ahora, si Trump empieza a aplicar su programa o continúa el programa de Obama, vamos a ver como los demócratas que controlan las organizaciones de mexicanos van a lanzar una campaña, olvidándose que estuvieron pasivos frente a la política anterior.

Es la politiquería que maneja la política de los inmigrantes y los latinos en Estados Unidos. No tienen independencia de acción. Es un problema grave que tenemos y debemos reconocer que Trump no es tan raro como parece, es simplemente un continuador de la política derechista de Obama. A pesar de todo lo demás, que es malo, lo peor es la privatización de la Educación que ya tiene un lugar en la economía política de Obama.

Es decir, no hay dudas de que debemos luchar hasta las últimas consecuencias contra Trump. Pero no debemos olvidar las traiciones, expulsiones y política reaccionaria de Obama. Es una continuación, más que una ruptura.

Finalmente debemos entender que únicamente para romper esta alteración del poder entre demócratas y republicanos, necesitamos una nueva política independiente.

Los Verdes fracasaron, porque a último momento capitularon la candidata presidencial, la señora Jill Stein, con la política de Obama.

Lo mismo pasó con Bernie Sanders, con un engaño grande denunciando a Clinton hasta que recibió una oferta y se integró a ese equipo.

No hay situación positiva para nosotros, pero empezando a cambiar debemos reconocer quiénes son los amigos y quiénes son los enemigos. Termino por acá, agregar que tenemos esperanza de que por lo menos con la presidencia de Trump, derrotamos el golpe institucional y preparamos nuevas guerras contra el señor Trump.

EChI: Muy bien Petras, como siempre te agradecemos desde Radio Centenario todo este análisis. Un abrazo.

JP: Bueno, quiero brindar a todos los oyentes un gran abrazo, por un año feliz y contentos seguimos en pie de lucha.

James Petras

James Petras: Sociólogo estadounidense conocido por sus estudios sobre el imperialismo, la lucha de clases y los conflictos latinoamericanos.

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Asesinato de embajador ruso, última llamada

December 20th, 2016 by Mouris Salloum George

En una atmósfera  de esquizofrenia permanente y colectiva,  producto de la continuidad de la Guerra Fría en la que se ha roto ya el “equilibrio catastrófico” entre las potencias, todo puede suceder…y sucede.

Ha sido asesinado, en Ankara, el embajador de Rusia en Turquía, Andréi Karlov. Su autor material, un agente de las fuerzas antidisturbios turcas, fue ultimado ipso facto en el mismo lugar del atentado. De sus motivaciones quedan sólo algunas exclamaciones entremezcladas con el estruendo de los disparos.

El marco climático del atentado no pudo ser más auspicioso: En el interior,  el ejercicio del poder turco por el desquiciado Recep Tayyip Erdogan, obcecado en exterminar todo vestigio de oposición a su mandato, que mantiene a la Nación en un estado de crispación sin solución de continuidad.

En el contexto internacional, la ONU está en proceso de transición en su Secretaría General; situación en la que el Consejo de Seguridad asume las riendas discrecionalmente.

En los Estados Unidos, potencia dominante en la ONU, se prepara el relevo en la Casa Blanca, cuestionado por imputaciones del Partido Demócrata y del propio gobierno de Obama por supuesta injerencia de Moscú en actos que habrían favorecido el triunfo del republicano Donald Trump.

Más específicamente, el crimen se ejecuta en horas en que los gobiernos de Rusia y Turquía acometen esfuerzos diplomáticos para la normalización de relaciones bilaterales que influyan en el proceso de paz en Siria.

Hechos de esa magnitud ponen en entredicho la función y la eficacia la diplomacia. En el periodo de la Guerra Fría, a partir de 1968, se ha consumado una docena de atentados contra embajadores de distintas representaciones. La mayoría, contra dignatarios de los Estados Unidos.

El huevo de la serpiente: El Estado Islámico

Apenas horas antes del terrible suceso en Ankara, el enviado de la ONU a Siria, Staffan de Mistiva había expresado su beneplácito por la decisión del Consejo de Seguridad de enviar observadores a Alepo.

Al conocerse el atentado contra el embajador Karlov, el Departamento de Estado (USA)  se limitó a declarar: Nuestros pensamientos y oraciones por él. (La víctima del demencial crimen).

El jefe de Estado ruso, Vladimir Putin fue menos complaciente: Se trata de una provocación para entorpecer el proceso de paz en Siria.

El alcalde de Ankara, Melih Gokcek, si bien prometió que “los asesinos serán castigados” cuando ya el cadáver del autor material yacía sobre el pavimento de la escena del crimen, puso el dedo en la llaga: Se trata de un acto terrorista.

Ese es el punto: La sucesión de atentados terroristas en Medio Oriente tiene su origen directo con la gestación y la acción del Estado Islámico sonsacado y financiado por Arabia Saudita y aupado por el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos y sus aliados.

El móvil y fin de la construcción de ese descontrolado Frankenstein, han sido desde su diseño el derrocamiento del gobierno sirio, a contrapelo del apoyo popular al presidente Bashar Al Assad.

Si el asesinato del embajador Andréi Karlov pudiera significar un alivio para nuestra sobrecogida Humanidad, éste tendría que consistir en la toma de conciencia de los líderes de las potencias de que el irracional estado de cosas en Medio Oriente no puede perpetuarse, so pena de que crímenes de tal naturaleza inciten a la vesánica imitación y alcancen algún día a jefes de Estado negados a un in pase en la prolongada Guerra Fría, cada vez más ardiente y devastadora.

Mouris Salloum George

Mouris Salloum George: Director general del Club de Periodistas de México A.C.

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It’s Official, Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

December 19th, 2016 by Global Research News

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donaldtrump

Trump Winning Electoral College Vote, Propaganda Campaign Portraying Him as an Instrument of Moscow has Failed

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, December 19 2016

Trump is two votes away from away from being elected president of the United States. Sofar Trump has not lost a single Elector’s vote. Hillary clinton has lost 4 Electoral votes.

trump-élection

The Electoral College Vote: The Propaganda Campaign against Trump Has Gone Wild

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, December 18 2016

The objective is clear: denigrate Trump in the eyes of public opinion, put pressure on the College Electors NOT TO VOTE FOR TRUMP on December 19 because he is “sleeping with the enemy”, he is an agent of Moscow.  A political crisis is in the making which will engulf the whole country.

obama-putin

Vladimir Putin was Never Head of the KGB, Nor Did He Order the Hacking of the DNC

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, December 17 2016

Vladimir Putin, tagged by president Barack Obama as a “former head of the KGB” at his National Press Conference (December 16) is said to have ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). ”Over a third of Republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.” This statement regarding Putin’s affiliation to the KGB borders on ridicule. Obama is either ignorant or “misinformed” by his White House intelligence advisers. Putin was never a high ranking official in the Soviet era KGB.

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Constitutional Crisis in America: What Will Be The Final Outcome of the U.S. Presidential Elections?

By Michael WelchProf Michel Chossudovsky, and Bob Fitrakis, December 18 2016

In his final press conference of the year, outgoing President Barrack Obama has formally accused Russia of interfering in the election on behalf of Trump. This week’s Global Research News Hour attempts to assess the evidence of election rigging, the claim that Russia was involved, and what all this uncertainty may mean for the stability of the incoming administration.

trump-2

What to Expect from Monday’s Electoral College Vote and Aftermath

By Stephen Lendman, December 19 2016

On January 6, a joint congressional session will certify the results, Trump’s inauguration to follow on January 20. At the same time, nothing is certain given an underhanded campaign to deny him the office he legitimately won, the likes of which never occurred in America before – government agencies and media scoundrels behind it, a coup d’etat attempt to change the election result.

hillary-clinton

Hillary Clinton’s Defeat and the ‘Fake News’ Conspiracy

By Jonathan Cook, December 19 2016

There is an astounding double standard being applied to the US presidential election result. A few weeks ago the corporate media were appalled that Donald Trump demurred on whether he would accept the vote if it went against him. It was proof of his anti-democratic, authoritarian instincts. But now he has won, the same media outlets are cheerleading the establishment’s full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of a Trump presidency.

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At 7:49 PM EST  the final count was confirmed: Donald Trump has 304 votes; Hillary Clinton has 227 votes; 7 votes went to others. Donald’s Trump victory was confirmed at 5.30pm EST

UPDATE: 5.30pm EST Its official, Donald Trump has surpassed the required 270 votes. 36 of 38 Texas electors voted for Trump. 

One voted for Ron Paul and another for John Kasich.

Latest news confirm that Donald Trump has surpassed the 270 electors vote required to become the 45th president of the United States.

UPDATE: 4.44pm EST: Trump is two votes away from away from being elected president of the United States. Sofar Trump has not lost a single Elector’s vote. Hillary Clinton has lost 4 Electoral votes. 

As of 4.20pm ET,  electoral college voting has been finalized in “at least 43 states, with 259 votes for Donald J. Trump and 115 for Hillary Clinton.” (NYT, December 19, 2016). 

UPDATE: 5.26PM EST. Texas will be reporting votes within the next few minutes, which will confirm Trump’s 270 required votes. At the moment, prior to the Texas results, Trump has 268 votes.

UPDATE: The latest figures at 4.30pm EST:  Donald Trump has 265 votes; Hillary Clinton has 160 votes. There are 109 votes pending. It’s not yet official but these results suggest a Trump win of the College Vote.

UPDATE: Dec 19, 2016 4:44 PM EST  Montana has cast 3 votes for Donald Trump.

Soft Protests

US news media report protest movements of several hundred in several state capitals urging College Electors not to vote for Trump. No significant mass movements took place. No shift in votes has occurred in relation to Trump.

The propaganda “fake news” campaign led by the mainstream media (with the support of Obama and CIA Director John Brennan) portraying Trump as a Russian agent has failed dismally.

The NYT acknowledges that:

 Despite calls for electors to defy the voters in states carried by Mr. Trump, the only signs of “faithless” electors have been in states that Mrs. Clinton won. (NYT, December 19, 2016)

The most pernicious “hate news” attack on Trump was on NBC’s Saturday Night Live which intimated that if Donald Trump becomes president, “he will  kill us all”. 

According to the reports:

There were many protesters but few faithless electors as Donald Trump appeared to cruise toward 270 votes in the Electoral College on Monday — ensuring he will become America’s 45th president.

Even one of Trump’s fiercest Republican rivals, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said it was time to get behind the president-elect.

In Madison, Wisconsin, protesters shouted, cried and sang “Silent Night.” In Augusta, Maine, they banged on drums and held signs that said, “Don’t let Putin Pick Our President,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But despite the noise outside state Capitols, inside, the voting went pretty much as planned.

With more than 30 states reporting, neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton had lost a single elector.

….

Republican electors have been deluged with emails, phone calls and letters urging them not to support Trump. Many of the emails are part of coordinated campaigns.

Some [democrats] have also tried to dissuade Trump voters by arguing that he is unsuited to the job. Others cite the CIA’s assessment that Russia engaged in computer hacking to sway the election in favor of the Republican. (ABC news)

Follow Global Research for updates.

UPDATES (Courtesy kiro7.com)

  1. Dec 19, 2016 4:44 PM EST  Montana has cast 3 votes for Donald Trump. He is two Electoral votes away from being elected president of the United States.
  2.  Dec 19, 2016 4:36 PM EST  From the Associated Press: “A couple of hundred protesters are gathering outside the California state Capitol ahead of Monday’s Electoral College meeting.”
  3.  Dec 19, 2016 4:30 PM EST  The count: Donald Trump has 265 votes; Hillary Clinton has 160 votes. There are 109 votes pending.
  4.  Dec 19, 2016 4:25 PM EST  Iowa cast 6 votes for Donald Trump.
  5.  Dec 19, 2016 4:12 PM EST  From The Associated Press: “Democrat Hillary Clinton received eight votes, former Secretary of State Colin Powell got three, and Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder in the Yankton Dakota tribe, got one. Clinton won the state’s popular vote.”
  6.  Dec 19, 2016 4:10 PM EST  Prior to the vote of the last handful of states — Texas included — the only faithless electors have been Democrats.
  7.  Dec 19, 2016 4:08 PM EST  Massachusetts cast 11 votes for Hillary Clinton.
  8.  Dec. 19, 2016 4:05 PM EST  Iowa, Montana and Nevada began voting at 4 p.m. ET.
  9.  Dec 19, 2016 3:59 PM EST  Alaska has cast 3 votes for Donald Trump.
  10.  Dec 19, 2016 3:49 PM EST The count: Donald Trump has 256 Electoral votes; Hillary Clinton has 135 votes. There are 143 votes pending.
  11.  Dec 19, 2016 3:46 PM EST New Jersey cast 14 votes for Hillary Clinton.
  12.  Dec 19, 2016 3:47 PM EST Four Democratic voters in Washington chose not to vote for Hillary Clinton, becoming “faithless” voters. Clinton took the other 8 votes in the state. Three Democratic electors have tried to be “faithless” by not voting for Clinton. One in Maine, one in Minnesota and one in Colorado. Those votes were changed and registered for Clinton.
  13.  Dec 19, 2016 3:42 PM EST  Colorado has cast 9 votes for Hillary Clinton.
  14.  Dec 19, 2016 3:29 PM EST  Nebraska electors cast 5 votes for Donald Trump.
  15.  Dec 19, 2016 3:22 PM EST  Missouri has cast 10 votes for Donald Trump.
  16.  Dec 19, 2016 3:10 PM EST  The Maine elector who voted for Bernie Sanders has his vote ruled “improper.” He has switched the vote to Clinton.
  17.  Dec 19, 2016 3:03 PM EST  Voting began at 3 p.m. in Alaska, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Texas and Washington.
  18.  Dec 19, 2016 2:50 PM EST  The Second District of Maine cast 3 votes for Hillary Clinton. The First District of Maine cast 1 vote for Donald Trump.
  19.  Dec 19, 2016 2:48 PM EST  The count: Donald Trump has 240 Electoral votes; Hillary Clinton has 115. There are 183 pending.
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Tambores de guerra comercial entre China y los países occidentales

December 19th, 2016 by Piergiorgio M. Sandri

¿Es China una economía de mercado? La pregunta parece teórica. Pero la respuesta tiene repercusiones enormes. Hace 15 años, el país asiático entró a formar parte de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) con el estatus de “economía no de mercado”. En aquella época estaba en transición desde el modelo comunista. Así que se pactó que quince años después se revisaría su condición. El plazo caducó hace una semana. 

Pero ni la UE ni EE.UU. tienen intención de cambiar su visión, porque cualquier cambio tiene consecuencias económicas de gran magnitud. En efecto, durante este periodo de transición las dos potencias occidentales han podido aplicar medidas antidumping a ciertos productos procedentes de China. Esto ha sido posible precisamente porque, al no ser una economía de mercado, la base para calcular si China vendía sus productos a un precio excesivamente bajo tenía en cuenta los niveles en países terceros. En la práctica, con ese sistema tanto la UE como EE.UU. han podido proteger su industria nacional al encarecer los bienes procedentes de China, aplicando recargas tarifarias.

Sin embargo, el cuadro puede cambiar radicalmente si China consigue convencer la OMC, en la demanda que acaba de presentar ante este organismo, de que es “una economía de mercado” a todos los efectos. Los europeos y los norteamericanos se quedarían sin defensas comerciales en el caso de que se aceptara la tesis de Pekín.

La batalla es jurídica, porque los chinos creen que el reconocimiento de su renovado estatus capitalista debería ser automático. Algo que los occidentales se niegan a reconocer. “Para mí China busca un pretexto. Su economía es todavía dirigida y centralizada y los precios no fluctúan libremente”, sostiene a este diario un exfuncionario de la OMC. Un informe del Parlamento Europeo añade que “en China las empresas no están sujetas a revisiones contables independientes y hay que garantizar la certeza del derecho concursal y de propiedad”.

Un estudio de hace un año del Economic Policy Institute de EE.UU. ha calculado que si China cambiara de estatus, sus exportaciones a Europa, sin el filtro de las medidas antidumping, podrían aumentar hasta un 30%. Una ola amarilla en toda regla que, según estas fuentes, costaría a la industria europea entre 1,7 y 3,5 millones de puestos de trabajo, ya que muchas empresas del Viejo Continente no conseguirían competir. El impacto económico representaría hasta el 2% del PIB europeo. “El reconocimiento de China como economía de mercado tendría un impacto desastroso para el sector del acero, el papel, la cerámica y los recambios de automóviles. El país cuenta con un amplio abanico de industrias subvencionadas y manipula su divisa para vender a precios descontados”, sostiene el estudio. Por ejemplo, en los primeros 11 meses de este año se han lanzado 41 investigaciones en 16 países sobre el acero importado de China (un 24% más respecto al año pasado), con la acusación de vender por debajo del coste.

La mecha está encendida, cuando las relaciones entre China y Trump no pasan por sus mejores momentos. Hace tan sólo una semana, el Departamento de Comercio de EE.UU. anunció una investigación sobre las importaciones chinas de maderas contra-chapadas (lo que podría forzar a aplicar aranceles del 114%), y la semana pasada se impusieron tarifas aduaneras en lavadoras chinas.

Las medidas de represalia, en todo caso, deberán adoptarse con cautela. Desde el 2015, China invierte más en Estados Unidos que al revés, hasta los 15.000 millones de dólares. “No prevemos una guerra comercial entre Estados Unidos y China en el escenario base”, decía Zhiwei Zhang, economista del Deutsche Bank. “Pero como han demostrado los recientes acontecimientos, también debemos pensar en escenarios impensables”.

Una transición larga y difícil hacia el mercado

En 15 años, desde su entrada en la OMC, el volumen de las importaciones y exportaciones chinas se ha multiplicado por ocho y su contribución en el crecimiento del PIB mundial ha subido al 25%. ¿Es suficiente para llegar a la conclusión de que China ha dejado atrás el modelo comunista para convertirse en una economía de mercado consolidada? En el 2014, hace sólo dos años, el presidente Xi Jinping dijo: “Los casos de corrupción y colusiones están aumentando. El abuso de la autoridad sobre el personal, también. El intercambio de poder por poder, poder por dinero y poder por sexo es frecuente. Los oficiales del Gobierno y hombres de negocio actúan en colusión, como entrelazados”.

Piergiorgio M. Sandri

Piergiorgio M. Sandri: Periodista del diario La Vanguardia.

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Summary of the tragic events so far, in which Russia’s envoy to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been shot dead in Ankara by a gunman in an assassination apparently linked to Moscow’s role in Syria’s civil war. Here are key facts and reaction summarized by BBG: 

  • The Gunman shouted about Aleppo, the Syrian city where rebels were defeated this month by Russian-backed government forces, as he carried out the attack at an art exhibit, CNN- Turk television says
  • Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek says man who killed ambassador was a police officer
  • Attack comes amid reconciliation efforts between Russia, Turkey as nations seek to improve ties after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over Syria last yr
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russian President Vladimir Putin to share information after the assassination, NTV reports, citing Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin
  • Elena Suponina, senior analyst at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies which advises the Kremlin, says attack “will only bring Russia and Turkey closer together” because it shows “we have a common enemy — terrorism — and only by joining forces can we deal with this enemy”
  • “While Putin is unlikely to burn bridges with Turkey, he is very likely to adopt a tougher stance in Syria against the rebels,” said Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara. “Russia may still be talking to Turkey at the table but it will probably have a much more aggressive stance on the ground in Syria”
  • Tougher Russian stance toward Turkey could delay return of Russian tourists; lira weakened after shooting to trade 0.8% down at 3.5337/dollar at 9 pm in Istanbul
  • Attack highlights fragile security situation in Turkey, where dozens of security personnel have been killed in past 10 days as a conflict between govt, separatist Kurds intensifies
  • Incident unlikely to change development of conflict in Syria, says Ayham Kamel, director of Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia
  • “Broadly we’re moving toward a position in Syria where the regime will incrementally consolidate its control over the trajectory of the conflict,” Kamel says
  • “The Russian support for the Syrian regime will remain on track and the plan to combine a military campaign initially with support for a political solution at a later stage will not significantly change”

Live Feed from RT:

The shooting caught on tape:

 

A photo of the attacker and his victim:

Update 6:

The US has said it stands “ready to offer assistance to Russia and Turkey as they investigate this despicable attack.”

The Turkish embassy has offered its condolences to Russia, calling the murder of Ambassador Karlov “an inhumane tragedy”.

“An inhumane tragedy occurred today with our distinguished colleague Andrey Karlov,” the Turkish embassy said, according to TASS. “There is no person in their right mind who would not condemn this evil act,” the mission said. “We grieve with all our hearts. We bring our deepest condolences to the people of Russia. This is our shared pain and loss.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry added that it won’t let the attack on the ambassador to overshadow tires.

The ball is now in Putin’s court.

Meanwhile, Twitter has circulated a picture allegedly showing the personal file of perpetrator, Melvut Mert Altintas, apparently proving he was a police officer.

 

* * *

Update 5: And here come the accusations: according to the Ankara Mayor the Assassint was a “Gulenist”,  suggesting that Turkey will promptly blame the “shadow government” of the cleric Fetullah Gulen who continues to reside in rural Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile the US State Department is urging US citizens to avoid the US embassy in Ankara.

EU spokesman Federica Mogherini said she “Expressed to Russia FM Lavrov EU condolences for unconceivable killing of Ambassador Karlov. Also in contact with #Turkey authorities”

At the same time, the Russian Federation Council, which branded the assassination a “terrorist act” said it considers the killing of Ambassador a grave failure of Turkish law enforcement.

* * *

Update 4: According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russia views the attack as a terrorist act and will raise the matter at a UN Security Council meeting. Furthermore, according to local Yeni Safak, the assassin is said to be a police officer. The man was an active member of the riot police force in the city, according to Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper, which gave the assassin’s initials as M.M.A. without naming him. 

The publication adds that the alleged assassin was born in 1994 in Aydin and attended police academy in Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast, Yeni Safak says.

In a strange twist, eyewitness to CNN Turk said that people were checked with a metal detectors to visit photo exhibition where Russian Turkey ambassador was shot at in Ankara, suggesting there may have been coordination.

* * *
Update 3: The attacker reportedly identified himself as a police officer as he entered the exhibition, a Turkish military source told Interfax. “We have information, from one of the witnesses, that the attacker presented himself as a police officer, showing the relevant ID at the entrance. This information is being checked right now,” the source is quoted as saying.

The perpetrator, who was wearing a suit and a tie, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is great’ in Arabic) during the attack, AP reports, citing their own photographer. The attacker also said several words in Russian, according to the news agency, and damaged several of the photos at the expo.

Turkish authorities have stepped up security at the Russian embassy in Ankara following the attack, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.

US State Dept spox issued the following statement on twitter:

We have seen reports that the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov and others have been attacked by a gunman in Ankara. We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families

* * *

Update 2: US equity markets stumbled and gold and bonds were bid as safe havens as the headlines hit…

Update 1

  • RUSSIA AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY DIES OF GUNSHOT WOUND – RIA CITES SOURCE

* * *

The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been shoot dead after an armed attack in Ankara. According to CNN Turk man opened fire in the air then fired twice at the ambassador, who was shot in the back.  Turkish TRT adds that after a shootout with the police, the gunman has been shot dead.

Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov

The Ambassador shown moments before the attack:

The following photo from Huyrriet shows the moment of the attack:

 

A photo of the attacker:

 

Footage from outside the building where the Russian ambassador was killed:

The attack took place at the opening of the “Russia through Turks’ eyes” photo exhibition, Turkish NTV news channel reports, and adds that there is information that three other people are injured. Karlov is reportedly getting aid at the scene of the shooting, and is said to be in critical condition.

“The ambassador was delivering a speech at the opening of the exhibition, and suddenly, during his speech, there was a shriek ‘Allah Akbar!’ — and someone started shooting,” an eyewitness told RIA Novosti. “It is likely that the attack was aimed at the Ambassador because after the shots were made the assailant let those present escape the room.”

An Associated Press photographer present at the shooting of the Russian Ambassador says the gunman fired multiple shots – 8 or more

In video showing the shooting Russian Ambassador to Turkey, the gunman heard shouting “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria!” and shouting “Allahu Akbar”

After shouting about Aleppo the gunman also shouts  “So long as those places are not secure, you won’t taste security yourselves.”

Russian Embassy in Ankara has not issued an official statement concerning the assault yet. However, soon after the news emerged, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian Foreign Ministry would soon issue a statement. The attack comes just a day before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s planned visit to Moscow for Syria talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.

Soon after the attack, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu arrived at the site.

CNN Turk also adds that the man who shot the ambassador shouted about Aleppo.

Sputnik reports that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the information that Russian Ambassador suffered a gunshot wound. The official statement noted that Russia is in contact with Turkish authorities regarding the attack.

According to interfax, Russia has called on Turkey to protect and aid the wounder ambassador.

* * *

Google translation from the latest upates via Turkish’ Hurriyet:

Russian Ambassador Andrey Gennadiyevich Karlov was armed at the opening of a painting exhibition in the Center for Contemporary Arts in Ankara. It was stated that the ambassador and the ambassador to whom he was attacked were still inside. Special Operations Police turned around the building, 15-20 hand guns were heard. It is stated that there is a conflict.

The attack took place during the opening of a painting exhibition in Ankara’s Center for Contemporary Arts. Russia’s Ankara Ambassador Andrey Karlov, who came to the floor to speak after the opening, was attacked at this time.

Hürriyet Ankara representative Deniz Zeyrek said: “We have a photograph from our Ankara buremus and we have a photograph about the incident and there was an exhibition of photographs of Çamkatka while the ambassador spoke to the air before the attacker first shot it and then the ambassador shot him from the back. The ambassador and the aggressor are still inside.Police said in the preparation for the operation that ”

Hürriyet photomuhavi Ha?im K?l?ç explained the people living there: There was a photo exhibition organized by the Russian embassy. A man in a black suit was standing behind the ambassador, who we thought was our protection when the embassy was speaking. And then he fired at the air. Then the ambassador shot.

The attacker said more about Aleppo. Then he wanted people to go out. As the people went out, they fired a few more hands into the body of the ambassador. I guess one of those invites came to one of the invites. He said that the Contemporary Arts Center’s security was entering by showing a police ID. There were about 100 people in the guesthouse and they were completely evacuated. As the people ran away, the ambassador fired a few more hands.

Special Operations and police teams surrounded the building. 15-20 gun shots were heard. It is stated that there is a conflict.

In the meantime, Russian officials who spoke to hurriyet.com.tr said that the attacks were carried out by radical Islamic terrorists.

* * *

The Turkish Lira is sliding on the news:

 

 

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Trump y el anuncio de una era de tormentas en Asia del Este

December 19th, 2016 by Alfredo Toro Hardy

El viaje del Presidente Nixon a Pekín en 1972 y su encuentro con Mao Tse-Tung, dieron un vuelco fundamental a la geopolítica mundial. En dicha oportunidad ambos países acordaron dejar de lado “la cuestión crucial que obstruía la normalización de sus relaciones”. Es decir el tema Taiwán.

Ambas partes necesitaban de este compromiso. Para Mao era la garantía de que Washington no se aliaría con Moscú en su contra, en momentos en que las tensiones de China con la Unión Soviética habían llegado a su punto álgido. Para Nixon ello brindaba la posibilidad de salir de la guerra de Vietnam sin que China explotase en su beneficio esta situación de debilidad estadounidense.

El acomodo anterior asumió connotaciones transformacionales. No sólo porque desde 1949 la relación estratégica con Taiwán había representado una pieza central de la política estadounidense hacia el Asia-Pacífico, sino porque las guerras de Corea y Vietnam habían sido libradas bajo la noción de que era necesario contener la expansión comunista y la influencia china.

Desde 1973 Pekín y Washington iniciaron relaciones sistemáticas a través de la apertura de Oficinas de Enlace en ambas capitales y en 1979 Jimmy Carter y Deng Xiaoping acordaron la apertura formal de relaciones diplomáticas. Esto último implicó el abandono del reconocimiento que hasta ese momento Estados Unidos había brindado a Taiwán y la aceptación de la existencia de una sola China.

Lo alcanzado en 1972 y 1979 brindó importantes dividendos a ambas partes. A partir de finales de esa década China pudo concentrarse en una política de crecimiento económico sin tener que desviar recursos o atención a una rivalidad estratégica con Estados Unidos. Ello, a la vez, permitió a Estados Unidos dirigir su atención prioritaria a otros escenarios en la seguridad de que China no sacaría provecho de ello.

De ambos quien mayor beneficio obtuvo fue China. Ello le posibilitó alcanzar el mayor crecimiento económico en la historia documentada de la humanidad, sacando de la pobreza a 600 millones de seres humanos y adentrándose en cuenta regresiva para convertirse en la primera potencia económica planetaria.

Hasta 2011 la atención prioritaria de Washington estuvo volcada hacia el Medio Oriente con una disminución considerable de su atención hacia la región Asia-Pacífico. A partir de dicha fecha, sin embargo, la situación se invirtió. Varias razones influyeron para ello: la constatación de que China representaba su mayor rival estratégico en el siglo XXI; la disminución de su nivel de paranoia con respecto a los riesgos del terrorismo islámico; la pérdida de relevancia estratégica del petróleo del Medio Oriente como resultado de los hidrocarburos de esquisto domésticos y, finalmente, la saturación resultante de los costos humanos y económicos incurridos en Irak y Afganistán.

La respuesta estadounidense al emerger de China buscó materializarse a través de una estrategia de efecto tenaza. La misma constaba de dos vertientes: una económica representada por la Asociación Tras Pacífica y otra estratégica expresada en el llamado “Pivote Asia”.  Sin embargo esta focalización de su atención debió ceder espacio ante eventos inesperados surgidos en 2014. A partir de ese momento la contención a Rusia debió compartir prioridad con la contención a China. Más aún, la invasión a Irak por parte de ISIS y su declaración como Califato universal, así como las negociaciones nucleares con Irán, hicieron que Estados Unidos debiese concentrarse de nuevo a una región del mundo que parecía haber quedado subordinada.

Luego de ganada la presidencia, Donald Trump ha lanzado dos grandes cargas de profundidad a la política de su país hacia el Asia-Pacífico.  Una fue anunciar el próximo abandono de la asociación Tras Pacífica. La otra fue dejar entrever que su país podría no adherir la política de una sola China. Lo primero deja a sus aliados de la región ante la difícil disyuntiva de escoger entre una expansión económica que ahora sólo China le garantizaría o una asociación estratégica con Washington. Para varios de ellos la balanza se inclina hacia Pekín.

La posibilidad de poner fin a la política de una sola China representa, sin embargo, una carga explosiva inmensamente más poderosa. Ello desestabilizaría por entero al vecindario Asia-Pacífico y con seguridad le aseguraría la deserción de la mayor parte de sus aliados en la región.  Así lo dan a entrever las encuestas en Australia, el más consistente de sus aliados en esta parte del mundo o en cualquier otro. La mitad de los australianos han indicado que bajo las nuevas circunstancias, su país debería distanciarse de Estados Unidos.

¿Cómo conciliar por lo demás las gigantescas tensiones que se generarían con China con las altas apuestas que Trump desea hacer también en otros escenarios? Una sola cosa parece clara, el mundo se adentra en época de fuertes tormentas cortesía de un líder tan inexperimentado como desconocedor del sentido de los límites.

Alfredo Toro Hardy

Alfredo Toro Hardy: Diplomático y escritor venezolano. 

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The Striking Audacity of the Coup-in-Process against Donald Trump

December 19th, 2016 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Unsubstantiated stories have been planted throughout the presstitute media by anonymous CIA officials that Donald Trump’s electoral victory was the result of Russian intervention. This absurd claim has now been elevated to the even more absurd claim that Putin himself oversaw and even conducted the manipulation of the US presidential election.

No evidence has been provided for these amazing claims. The presstitutes are reporting unsubstantiated wild accusations that portend both a constitutional crisis in the US and a crisis with Russia.

We know that the presstitutes lie. They lied when they reported contrary to the weapons inspectors in Iraq that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. They lied about fake evidence of yellowcake and alumninum tubes. They lied about Saddam Hussein’s al-Qaeda connections.

They lied about Iranian nukes despite the unanimous report of all US intelligence agencies that Iran had abandoned interest in nuclear weapons years ago. The presstitutes lied about Assad using chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

They lied about Gadaffi.

They lied about Russian invasion of Ukraine. They lied about the cause of the Russian/Georgian conflict. They lied about the Sochi Olympics. Now the presstitutes are claiming that Russian interference determined the outcome of the US presidential election and the Brexit vote.

As a result of the prestitutes’ lies, millions of peoples have been killed and dislocated. This blood is all on the heads of the American media. So we know for a proven fact that the US media has no integrity and no conscience.

Now the presstitutes have surpassed their previous level of criminality. They are part and parcel of fomenting a coup against the president-elect and throwing the country into a crisis of unknown proportion.

Tomorrow the Electoral College meets to cast the ballots for president. There is a well organized effort to disrupt this normally routine procedure. Based on CIA lies spread over the country by the presstitutes, 62 electors have requested a CIA briefing prior to the vote on Russian interference in the election. As there is no formal CIA report and no evidence in support of the allegations, the briefing would consist of the allegations.

A Harvard Law School professor, Lawrence Lessig, involved in the Stop-Trump movement, has promised free legal defense of electors who break with precedent and cast their votes differently from the majority vote of their states.

This effort, which presents a grave and continual threat to the Constitution, to domestic tranquility, and to international stability, is said in a nationwide media ad campaign to be necessary in order to block Trump from presenting “a grave and continual threat to the Constitution, to the domestic tranquility, and to international stability.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-12-15/long-shot-bid-to-block-trump-arrives-at-electoral-college-monday

If the effort tomorrow fails, President Obama has put in motion a second shot at blocking Trump’s inauguration with his order to the CIA to produce a report on Russian election meddling prior to January 20. This report could be used to delay the inauguration or to convey to the Amerian public and peoples abroad so many doubts that Trump’s effectiveness as a leader would be undermined.

And of course, the constant assaults on Trump can result in his assassination by a “lone nut” patriot incensed over having in office a president declared by the New York Times to be a Putin stooge and useful idiot for the Russians. This is the newspaper of record’s characterization of the president chosen by the American people.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research adds another dimension to the struggle—a fight between rival oligarchic interests. Trump and his announced Secretary of State want the business deals that result from normal relations with Russia. The military/security oligarchs want the immense budgets and power that comes from positioning Russia as a dire threat. Even if Trump survives the CIA’s challenge to his election, his cabinet appointees will have to survive confirmation fights and, if they do, ongoing challenges to their efforts to change policies from policies that favor oligarchs enriched by war to policies that favor oligarchs enriched by peace.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/u-s-foreign-policy-and-the-electoral-college-vote-towards-a-december-19-surprise/5561928

In other words, whatever the outcome tomorrow and January 20th, the fight is ongoing.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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There is an astounding double standard being applied to the US presidential election result.

A few weeks ago the corporate media were appalled that Donald Trump demurred on whether he would accept the vote if it went against him. It was proof of his anti-democratic, authoritarian instincts.

But now he has won, the same media outlets are cheerleading the establishment’s full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of a Trump presidency. That campaign is being headed by the failed candidate, Hillary Clinton, after a lengthy softening-up operation by US intelligence agencies, led by the CIA.

According to the prevailing claim, Russian president Vladimir Putin stole the election on behalf of Trump (apparently by resorting to the US playbook on psy-ops). Trump is not truly a US president, it seems. He’s Russia’s placeman in the White House – a Moscovian candidate.

An assessment of the losing side’s claims should be considered separately from the issue of who won the popular mandate. It is irrelevant that Clinton gained more votes than Trump. For good or bad, the US has operated an inherently unrepresentative electoral college since the 18th century. That has provided plenty of time to demand electoral reform. Concern about the electoral college now, only because it elected Trump, is simply ugly partisan politics, not political principle.

Launching last week what looked like a potential comeback, Clinton stepped up the establishment’s attack on the result. She argued that Putin had personally directed the hacking operation that lost her the presidency. He had sought to foil the wishes of the US electorate in revenge for her claims in 2011, when Secretary of State, that Russia’s parliamentary elections had been rigged.

“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Clinton told campaign donors at meeting in New York.

CIA’s evidence-free claims

Clinton’s allegations, of course, did not arrive in a vacuum. For weeks the CIA and other intelligence agencies have been making evidence-free claims that Russia was behind the release of embarrassing emails from the Democratic party leadership. The last hold-out against this campaign, James Comey, the head of the FBI, was reported late last week to have caved in and joined the anti-Putin camp.

The Washington Post quoted CIA director John Brennan saying: “Earlier this week, I met separately with [the FBI’s] James Comey and [director of national intelligence] Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election.”

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador turned whistleblower on British government collusion in torture, has said he personally received the leaked emails on behalf of Wikileaks. The data came, he said, not from Russian security agencies, or even from freelance Russian hackers, but from a disillusioned Democratic party insider. Russia experts in the US have similarly discounted the anti-Putin claims, as have former US intelligence agents.

But either way, what is being overlooked in the furore is that none of the information that has come to light about the Democratic party was false. (Though the US intelligence services did indeed try to make that claim initially). The emails are real and provide an accurate account of the Democratic party’s anti-democratic machinations, including efforts to undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s challenger.

If Russia did indeed seek to influence the election by releasing truthful information that made Clinton and her allies look bad that would be far more legitimate interference than the US has engaged in against countless countries around the globe. For decades the US has been actively involved in using its military might to overthrow regimes in Latin America and the Middle East. It has also compromised the sovereignty of innumerable states, by sending killer-drones into their airspace, manipulating their media and funding colour revolutions.

The NSA is not archiving every bit of digital information it can lay its hands on for no reason. The US seeks global dominance, whether the rest of the globe wants it or not.

The ‘fake news’ threat

The corporate media have been lapping up the CIA’s evidence-free allegations as hungrily as an underfed kitten. Not only have they been credulously regurgitating the dubious claims of the same US intelligence agencies that knowingly spread lies about Iraq’s WMD, but they have added their own dangerous spin to them.

The media have suddenly woken up to the supposed threat to western democracies posed by “fake news”. The implication is that it was “fake news” that swept Trump to power. A properly informed electorate, on this view, would never have made such a patently ridiculous choice as Trump. Instead, Clinton would have been rightfully crowned president.

“Fake news”, of course, does not concern the systematic deceptions promoted by the corporate media. It does not include the demonstrable lies – like those Iraqi WMDs – spread by western governments and intelligence agencies through the corporate media. It does not even refer to the press corps’ habitual reports – demonstrating a seemingly gargantuan gullibility – that take at face value the endless state propaganda against Official Enemies, whether Cuba, Venezuela, Libya or Syria. Or Russia and now Trump.

No, “fake news” is produced only by bloggers and independent websites, and is promoted on social media. Those peddling “fake news” are writers, journalists and activists whose pay packets do not depend on continuing employment by western state-run media like the BBC, billionaire proprietors like Rupert Murdoch, or global corporations like Times-Warner.

It is worth noting that the leaked Democratic emails, whether the leaking was done by Russia or not, were certainly not “fake news”. They were documented truth. But the leaks are being actively conflated with “fake news”.

Shutting down dissent

There have always been patently ridiculous stories in marginal, and not so marginal, mainstream media, whether it was reports of Elvis coming back from the dead or the millennium computer bug that was going to bring civilisation to an end when we entered the year 2000. That problem has not substantially changed; it has simply moved on to new platforms like social media.

Much more significantly, the systematic deceptions perpetrated by corporate media for many decades have left swaths of western publics distrustful and cynical. Social media has only added to widespread alienation because it has made it easier to expose to readers these mainstream deceptions. Trump, like Brexit, is a symptom of the growing disorientation and estrangement felt by western electorates.

But the claim of “fake news” does usefully offer western security agencies, establishment politicians and the corporate media a powerful weapon to silence their critics. After all, these critics have no platform other than independent websites and social media. Shut down the sites and you shut up your opponents.

The campaign against a Trump presidency will exploit claims of foreign, hostile interference in the US election as a pretext to crack down on homegrown dissent. Putin is not waging a war on US democracy. Rather, US democracy is proving itself increasingly inconvenient to those who expect to dictate electoral outcomes.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan’s website.

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This article was first published on the 17th of December 2016

Only a few days ago the New York Times acknowledged that the CIA finding that the Kremlin hacked the Democratic National Convention’s computers with the intention of influencing the US presidential election was based, not on evidence, but conjecture. Today, the newspaper’s reporters have forgotten their earlier caveats and have begun to treat the intelligence agency’s guess-work as an established truth.

Emblematic of the newspaper’s approach of acknowledging the uncertainty of many intelligence assessments only to quickly throw caution to the wind to embrace them as certain facts, was a December 15 report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo in which the two reporters wrote that the “hack influenced the course, if not the outcome, of a presidential campaign.” [1] The sentence is astonishing for not only stripping the CIA finding of its immanent uncertainty, but in venturing well beyond the intelligence agency’s judgement to aver what no one could possibly know, namely, whether the release of DNC e-mails influenced the presidential campaign.

That it did, and at Clinton’s expense, is, of course, the conclusion the Democrats, if not a faction of the US ruling class associated with the Clintons, would like the US public to arrive at. In this, the New York Times has provided signal assistance as the unofficial propaganda arm of the US ruling class’s Democratic Party wing. Yet, we don’t even know if the DNC e-mails were hacked let alone by agents of the Russian government. One alternative explanation is that the e-mails were leaked by someone inside the DNC. Nevertheless, Goldman and Apuzzo claim to know far more than anyone could possibly know: that the CIA’s analysis is true despite the agency’s own admission of uncertainty and that, additionally, the Russian government intended to influence the outcome of the campaign and that its efforts bore fruit.

New York Times reporters Julie Hirschfeld Davis and David E. Sanger are slightly more circumspect than the omniscient Goldman and Apuzzo, but nevertheless have written of “Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election,” as if this is not a matter of conjecture but established fact. They have also mentioned Trump’s refusal “to accept Moscow’s culpability,” as if Moscow’s culpability is indisputable. [2] Sanger is a member of the Wall Street-directed foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, of which most members of the Obama cabinet are also members, as were occupants of the most significant offices of the US state, going back to at least the Carter administration. [3] The CFR is likely the body through which the anti-Trump faction of the US ruling class organizes itself.

Let’s recall how much uncertainty underlies the CIA finding which the New York Times now accepts as fact, in the same way the newspaper quickly accepted as fact an equally tentative, and evidence-free US intelligence finding that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in its war against Al Qaeda and the Islamist group’s allies, offshoots and auxiliaries. Today, “Assad’s use of chemical weapons” is bandied about in the Western media as if it were an incontrovertible fact, belying the reality that the US intelligence finding on the matter was based on belief, not evidence, and that there was, by Washington’s own admission, no “smoking gun.” What’s more, the idea that the Syrian military would use chemical weapons, which are less effective than conventional arms, when doing so would have crossed a redline drawn by Washington, and invited a more muscular US intervention in Syria, never made sense.

The US newspaper of record reported that “two Russian hacking groups” were “found at work inside the D.N.C. network,” “Cozy Bear and “Fancy Bear.” Cozy Bear, according to the newspaper, “may or may not be associated with the F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B” (emphasis added.) Fancy Bear, it turns out, also may or may not be associated with the Russian government, in this case, “the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence agency.” Nevertheless, the New York Times revealed that both groups are “believed” by Washington to be Russian government operations (though they may or may not be.) [4]

How was this belief arrived at? Through a process the New York Times describes as attribution, “the skill of identifying a cyberattacker.” This is a fancy way of describing conjecture. Attribution is “more art than science,” the newspaper concedes, while acknowledging that it “is often impossible to name an attacker with absolute certainty.” [5] Finding water with a divining rod, and predicting the future with a Ouija board, are also more art than science, and both involve the process of attribution, the skill of identifying hidden water and hidden events, though it is often impossible to find water, and foretell the future, with absolute certainty. Divination and CIA analyses apparently have much in common.

Given that the CIA analysis appears to be more art than science, and more conjecture than evidence, how do we get from the multiple agnostic claims that a) the Russian government may or may not have initiated a cyberattack against the DNC; b) it’s impossible to say with certainty that it did; and c) it’s all guess work, to a definite declaration, as appeared in the New York Times on December 13? “Russian cyberpower invaded the U.S.”

The FBI began investigating the allegation that Russia meddled in the election over the summer. [6] The bureau doubted “the CIA had a basis for coming to (its) conclusions.” [7] As a consequence, the organization refused to “sign on to the public statement attributing the hacking to Russia.” [8]

The reasons for the FBI scepticism were outlined by the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Eric Lichtblau on December 11. The reporters wrote that the CIA’s conclusion “is based on “circumstantial evidence…that others,” namely, the FBI and the CIA’s sister intelligence organizations “feel does not support firm judgments.” [9] “People familiar with the hacking investigation long have said that…it would be difficult to prove in court,” added the Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris. [10] Intelligence “findings are more grounded in analysis” wrote Harris, as opposed to “the evidentiary standards the FBI typically uses.” [11] One of the “core realities of intelligence analysis,” reported Mazzetti and Lichtblau, is that they “are often made in a fog of uncertainty…based on putting together shards of a mosaic that do not reveal a full picture, and can always be affected by human biases.” [12] Echoing this, Washington Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous wrote that officials “are frequently looking at information that is fragmentary. They also face issues…that (make) it hard – if not impossible – to conclusively detect the Kremlin’s elusive fingerprints.” [13] (Note that in this sentence the truth of what is to be proved in already assumed. The Kremlin’s fingerprints are present—it’s just difficult to detect them.)

In short, the FBI “wants facts and tangible evidence.” The CIA “is more comfortable drawing inferences.” The FBI thinks “in terms of…can we prove this.” The CIA makes “judgment calls.” High confidence for the CIA “doesn’t mean they can prove it.” [14]

Other intelligence agencies, apart from the FBI, also doubted the CIA’s judgment call.

The CIA analysis “fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies,” reported the Washington Post, owing to “disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment.” [15] One disagreement related to the absence of “specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin” directing the hacking. It seemed that the people the CIA suspected of carrying out the hack were not employees of the Russian government. [16]

This called into question an earlier, October 7, finding from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In a joint declaration, the US intelligence czars said they were “confident that the Russian Government directed the … compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.” But the intelligence community’s confidence didn’t rest on direct evidence. Nothing tied the suspected hackers to the Kremlin. The finding was, instead, based on a belief—“that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities” and that “the alleged hacked e-mails … are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.” [17] In other words, the intelligence community had no proof.

The October 7 statement also referred to the hacked e-mails as “alleged,” suggesting that despite its claimed confidence, Washington wasn’t even sure the DNC servers were hacked. The e-mails could have been leaked from within.

It is a reality of everyday life that decisions are made in the face of uncertainty. We can’t always defer action until evidence accumulates. For this reason, the US intelligence community’s efforts to arrive at a judgment based on fragmentary evidence and analysis is perfectly reasonable. But once decisions that are, in effect, working hypotheses become received doctrine—when “the DNC servers may or may not have been hacked, and the Kremlin may or may not be the perpetrator” becomes — “Russian cyberpower invaded the U.S,” as the New York Times put it— the process degenerates into propaganda.

None of this is to acknowledge the sheer hypocrisy of the US government accusing the Kremlin of interfering in the US election when no other country has as extensively meddled in the electoral outcomes of foreign countries as has the United States. The New York Times offered a token admission of US culpability. “The United States, too, has carried out cyberattacks, and in decades past the C.I.A. tried to subvert foreign elections,” wrote Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane. [18] A few days later, Sanger expanded on US subversion of foreign elections. It “is worth remembering that trying to manipulate elections is a well-honed American art form,” Sanger noted.

The C.I.A. got its start trying to influence the outcome of Italy’s elections in 1948, as the author Tim Weiner documented in his book “Legacy of Ashes,” in an effort to keep Communists from taking power. Five years later, the C.I.A. engineered a coup against Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically elected leader, when the United States and Britain installed the Shah.

“The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government,” the agency concluded in one of its own reports, declassified around the 60th anniversary of those events, which were engineered in large part by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.

There were similar interferences over the years in Guatemala, Chile and even in Japan, hailed as a model of post-World War II democracy, where the Liberal Democratic Party owes its early grip on power in the 1950s and 1960s to millions of dollars in covert C.I.A. support. [19]

Since World War II, Washington has grossly interfered in the elections of 30 foreign countries. Over the same period, the US government has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments and attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders–different means to accomplish the same end, namely, interfering in the politics of foreign countries. [20]

And while in decades past it may have been that the “CIA tried to subvert foreign elections,” as the New York Times acknowledges, what isn’t mentioned is that in recent decades foreign election meddling has been transferred to the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy. The organization’s first president acknowledged that the NED’s role is to carry out overtly the task of influencing foreign elections that the CIA had once done covertly. The NED has been active in attempts to influence electoral outcomes in Serbia, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere. The NED interferes in the elections of countries in which the sitting government has refused to fall in behind the United States as self-appointed leader of the international order, preferring self-determination and sovereignty. So Washington has manoeuvred to install biddable governments in these countries that are more amenable to acquiescing to US leadership, which is to say, submitting to the international dictatorship of the United States.

None of the foregoing is to suggest that Washington is getting its comeuppance. On the contrary, there’s no evidence that Russia intervened in the US election, much less that the DNC servers were hacked. (A group of former US intelligence officers believe the e-mails were leaked, but like the finding of current serving intelligence analysts that the e-mails were hacked, this is all based on “analysis,” not evidence. [21])

The incident should remind us that the US government often makes allegations on the basis of nothing more than conjecture, which “can always be affected by human biases,” as the New York Times concedes, [22] or political pressure, as the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq affirms. No less worthy of our attention is the reality that the mass news media have agendas which comport with the interests of their owners, that their owners belong to the economic elite, and that the economic and political elites are intertwined. This explains why the mass media act as conduits of propaganda through which evidence-free intelligence findings are regularly disseminated to the public to manufacture consent for, or least acquiescence to, elite agendas; Iraq’s non-existent WMD are emblematic of a fiction attributed to an intelligence “failure” that was used as a casus belli to rally support for war.

One can only guess—like the CIA guessing at who leaked the DNC e-mails and why—that there is a struggle within the US ruling class over the outcome of the US election, with the faction to which the Clintons belong resolved to prevent Trump from becoming president, or, at least, undermining his presidency. The reasons are likely due to intolerance of Trump’s promised departures from core US foreign policy tenets, especially his professed desire to treat Russia as a partner rather than adversary, his repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other heterodoxies.

Notes

1. Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, “U.S. faces tall hurdles in detaining or deterring Russian hackers,” The New York Times, December 15, 2016

2. Julie Hirschfeld Davis and David E. Sanger, “Obama says U.S. will retaliate for Russia’s election meddling,” The New York Times, December 15, 2016

3. Laurence H.Shoup. Wall Street’s Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014, Monthly Review Press, 2015

4. Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane, “The perfect weapon: How Russian cyberpower invaded the U.S.,” The New York Times, December 13, 2016

5. Ibid. 

6. Mark Mazzetti and Eric Lichtblau, “C.I.A. judgement on Russia built on swell of evidence,” The New York Times, December 11, 2016

7. Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous, “FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers in Russia’s motives un 2016 hacks,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2016

8. Shane Harris, “Donald Trump fuels rift with CIA over Russian hack,” The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2016

9. Mark and Lichtblau

10. Shane Harris, “Donald Trump fuels rift with CIA over Russian hack,” The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2016

11. Harris, December 11, 2016

12. Mazzetti and Lichtblau

13. Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous, “FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers in Russia’s motives un 2016 hacks,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2016

14. Ibid

15. Adam Entous, Ellen Nakaskis, and Greg Miller, “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House,” The Washington Post, December 9, 2016

16. Ibid

17. “Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security,” October 7, 2016

18. Lipton, Sanger and Shane

19. David E. Sanger, “Obama confronts complexity of using a mighty cyberarsenal against Russia,” The New York Times, December 17, 2016

20. William Blum, “The Anti-Empire Report,” No. 146, November 6, 2016

21. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims,” Common Dreams, December 15, 2016

22. Mazzetti and Lichtblau

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Congressional Republicans quietly closed a year-long investigation into Flint, Michigan’s crisis over lead in its drinking water, faulting both state officials and the Environmental Protection Agency for contamination that has affected nearly 100,000 residents.

In letters to fellow Republicans, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Friday that Michigan and federal officials were slow in detecting high levels of lead in the water and did not act fast enough once the problem was discovered.

The committee findings offer no new information and essentially summarize what emerged during several high-profile hearings earlier this year.

“The committee found significant problems at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and unacceptable delays in the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to the crisis,” wrote Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “The committee also found that the federal regulatory framework is so outdated that it sets up states to fail.”

Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state control at the time.

Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.

After nearly a year of haggling, Congress cleared legislation last week to provide $170 million to deal with the Flint crisis and help other communities with lead-tainted water.

In his letters to fellow GOP lawmakers, Chaffetz cites “a series of failures at all levels of government” that “caused and then exacerbated the water crisis.”

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Allegations of US-support for pseudo-Islamist terrorists around the world often fall on deaf ears and are dismissed as the mad ramblings of conspiracy theorists.

According to numerous scholars, including Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, and many others, the United States has a long and well-documented history of supporting mass murderers around the world, both covertly and overtly.

As many researchers have reported, the Government of the United States has supported genocidal military dictators around the globe as well as violent extremists, ranging from death-squads in Latin America to MKO terrorists in Iran as well as acts of aggression in other parts of the world.

US-support for the Mujahidin, al-Qaeda, and the early Taliban has been widely reported as has American support for the internationalist terrorists who overthrew Qaddafi and those who have exceeded all bounds in their attempt to annihilate Iraq and Syria.

Despite the clear and present danger that so-called Radical Islamist terrorists pose to the Western world, political and intelligence analysists report that the US administration has continued to use them as “useful geopolitical tools” to weaken and destabilize nation-states.

And while the United States government finally appeared to take a moral stance against ISIS by passing the Fortenberry Resolution on March 15, 2016, and holding the terrorist group responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, it has no intention of actually prosecuting any returning terrorists, and never had the intention of bringing any of them to justice.

As FBI Director James Comey indicated in an interview with “60 Minutes” on October 7, 2014, American citizens who are fighting with ISIS are “entitled” to return to the US. Such a position, however, is in blatant violation of United States Code, Section 1481, which states that:

A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality– …(3) entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if (A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or … (7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, … , or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.

What is more, current US law also states that it is a crime to provide material support to a terrorist organization which includes joining or attempting to join a terrorist group. Finally, the US Neutrality Act also makes it a crime for American citizens or residents to fight against a government with which the US is not officially at war.

Under the Obama administration, however, the law did not apply. Rather than arrest, prosecute, and punish war criminals and traitors, James Comey, the FBI Director, reported that returning ISIS terrorists were merely being “tracked.” In fact, on November 13, 2015, the FBI admitted that it was engaged in nearly 1,000 active probes involving ISIS members, sympathizers, and supporters on US soil. Typically, however, whether it is in Europe or the United States, we only learn that a person was “under surveillance” after they have committed mass murder.

Over a year earlier, on September 22, 2014, President Obama admitted that American ISIS fighters had returned to the United States. Rather than have them detained, charged, and convicted, he reported that they were being tracked closely. That is like telling parents that the State is simply keeping violent pedophilic sexual predators under surveillance rather than holding them accountable for their crimes.

On September 30, 2014, the Brookings Institute published an article by Daniel L. Byman and Jeremy Shapiro that argued that “the danger posed by returning fighters is both familiar and manageable.”

A policy briefing, titled, Returning Foreign Fighters was published by the Brooking Institute on August 15, 2015, argued in favor of reintegration of foreign fighters as opposed to criminalization.

In May of 2016, the US Department of State and US Aid published their Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism which calls for the “rehabilitation and reintegration” of violent extremist radicals “back into society.”

In a study titled ISIS in the West, published by the New America Foundation in November of 2015 and updated on March 22, 2016, Peter Bergen, Courtney Schuster, and David Sterman, described the threat of returning terrorists as “low” and “likely … manageable.”

Apparently, the US administration also had its Obama-Muslims on board who supported the suicidal plan to reintegrate returning terrorists fighters.

Humera Khan, the Executive Director of Muflehun, a think tank specializing in preventing radicalization and countering violent extremism proposes four intersecting strategies to combat extremism:

preventing radicalization, intervening on behalf of individuals who have radicalized, interdicting or finding and prosecuting those who have engaged in criminal behavior, and reintegrating into society those offenders who are in prison, have served their term, or are returning from conflict zones.

While reasonable people agree with prevention and intervention, the notion of rehabilitating terrorists who are guilty of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity is morally and ethically objectionable.

It is one thing when a naïve, idealistic youth, who was brain-washed by some manipulative Salafi / Wahhabi / Takfiris, goes to Syria, sees that he has been lied to, realizes that the “Islamic” State is actually a “Satanic” State, repents, returns home, and atones. Such a youth could eventually be completely de-radicalized and prove useful in preventing the radicalization of others.

It is another thing altogether when a committed person, who is fully aware of the criminal actions of ISIS, joins them eagerly, torturing, mutilating, and murdering people, beheading babies, exterminating Christians, Shiites, Sufis, traditional Sunnis, and Kurds, as well as raping, enslaving, and trafficking women, returns to the Western world.

Despite endorsing the Fortenberry Resolution, which finds ISIS guilty of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, the US Government, under Obama, has had no intention of bringing ISIS terrorists to justice, either here or abroad.

Like the European governments, who feel that prosecuting returning terrorist fighters is “impractical” and “difficult,” the American administration argues that the International Human Rights Tribunal does not have jurisdiction over Syria and Iraq. Ironically, the US administration has no qualms about jurisdiction when they attack, bomb, invade, and occupy sovereign nations.

Through statements from government officials, policy recommendations from think-tanks, as well as reports from a number of sources close to the White House, it was US policy, under Obama, not to arrest and prosecute ISIS fighters returning to the United States, but to attempt to “reintegrate” them into US society, thus putting all Americans at risk. First the Cuban Exiles, next the Contras, and now this.

The same policy has been in place in Saudi Arabia for some time, where returning terrorists are “re-educated” to view this or that foreign enemy, rather than the Saudi regime itself, as the proper objects of their “jihad” against unbelievers. It has met with little success.

By embracing the “Countering Violent Extremism Strategy,” the Obama Administration betrayed an incredibly naïve view of the threat posed to the West by Takfiri terrorists. In fact, it leaves some to suspect that “reintegration” may be part of the deal the US made with certain ISIS fighters, either as a sort of retirement package or a way of putting valuable assets on ice for possible future reactivation. And the Feds may fear if they do not keep their end of that bargain, ISIS will respond with large-scale attacks inside the US.

Readers should definitely search “War College Counter-Insurgency Policies” plus “Salvadoran Death-Squads,” since it appears that the US plan for ISIS may incorporate elements of the model that was used with both the death-squads and the Contras. The BIG DIFFERENCE here is that the death-squads and the Contras did not ultimately declare war on the US, which would make ISIS the greatest foreign policy debacle in US history.

All Americans should be shocked that such policies have been proposed and even more scandalized that they have been implemented. In March of 2016, the House of Representatives declared by a unanimous vote the actions of ISIS to be genocide; this conclusion was echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry. Yet the plan appears to be not to arrest and prosecute these war criminals and ship them to Guantanamo, but to attempt to reintegrate them into society  perhaps after a short “vacation,” perhaps not.

We are still tracking down and punishing the last Nazis, now in their 90’s, and the actions of ISIS are certainly as barbaric as anything the Nazis ever dreamt up. Anyone who thinks that a young terrorist with the blood still moist and fragrant on his hands poses less of a threat to US society than some 90-year old ex-Nazi should have his or her head examined. Have the laws against treason been suspended? Apparently so.

If Obama’s White House appears to have been sanitized of sanity, the United Nations still seems to have a head on its shoulders. Contrary to the US government, that downplays the danger, the UN recently reported that foreign terrorist fighters “pose a “significant and evolving” global threat.

The US Government, under Obama, has continued to live in la-la land, urging Muslim communities to help reintegrate and rehabilitate returning ISIS combatants. If the administration had its way it would be time to welcome home ISIS to the USA!

With the election of Donald Trump, the pendulum appears to have shifted from a policy of aiding and abetting ISIS terrorists, while simultaneously pretending to fight them, to a policy of blowing the shit out of them with the support of Vladimir Putin who has suddenly shifted from being an enemy to an indispensable ally.

Nuclear War with Russia

As disappointing as Hillary Clinton’s defeat may be to half of the US population, it appears to have averted a nuclear war with Russia and China. The Obama-Clinton policy of antagonizing Russia and China was playing with nuclear fire. Hillary’s threat to impose a no-fly zone over Syria and her willingness to shoot down Russian aircrafts could have escalated into a conflict of cataclysmic proportions.

The major build-up of nuclear bombers on Diego Garcia, a US military base in the Indian Ocean, no fly zones over Montana’s nuclear silos, and the movement of refueling tankers to the Middle were also ominous signs in October of 2016.

Under-reported or entirely ignored in the United States, the Russians organized massive nuclear attack drills involving 40 million citizens in October of 2016. In the same month, Putin requested that Russian students, officials, and their loved-one return to “the Motherland.” These unprecedented actions coincided with the upgrading of the DEFCON Warning System to Level 3.

The DEFCON alert system has five different levels with level 1indicating an impeding nuclear war. To put things into perspective, the last time the alert was raised so high was on September 11, 2001. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US Armed Forces were ordered to DEFCON 3 while Strategic Air Command was ordered to DEFCON 2.

If most inhabitants of planet earth were oblivious to the fact that the world was on the brink of nuclear war in October of 2016, they also ignored that the risk was directly related to the potential election of Clinton. Not only did Hillary intend on following the failed foreign policy of her predecessor, she intended to assume an even more belligerent stance.

While many people were shocked at the election of Donald Trump, and many were convinced that the world would come to an end, they failed to realize that the DEFCON warning level immediately dropped down to 5, namely, “There are currently no imminent nuclear threats against the United States at this time.” In other words, the world almost came to an end: not because of Trump but rather because of Clinton.

And while it is true that the DEFCON alert system “is not affiliated with any government agency… and does not represent the alert status of any military branch,” it serves as a barometer that gages the risk of nuclear war involving the United States. Relying on publicly available information as well as contacts within government and military agencies, it provides, in my estimation, an informed analysis of current political conditions.

As President-Elect, Donald J. Trump’s first accomplishment was saving the planet from nuclear doom. His second accomplishment was his promise to stop all US-support for the terrorists operating in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. And rather than sending ISIS veterans home to the United States, we can only hope and pray that Trump’s re-set toward a reasonable foreign policy and a multipolar worldview will send Takfiri terrorists to their eternal home in Hell.

As much as I have criticized Mr. Trump for all the outrageous statements he has made and the scandalous policies he has proposed, and as much as I will continue to denounce any declarations that he makes and any actions that he takes that violate the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, and international law, I will praise and support any positive efforts on his part.

Mr. Trump, as President, 1) promise us that American imperialism and exceptionalism will become part of the past; 2) promise us that the United States will no longer employ “Islamist” terrorists as part of overt and covert military actions against sovereign nations; 3) promise us that plans to reintegrate and rehabilitate returning terrorist fighters will be permanently halted and that the war criminals in question will be brought to justice; and, finally, 4) promise us that you will make a distinction, not between “moderate” Muslims and “extremist” Muslims but between true Muslims and false Muslims. If you fulfil these four promises, you will go a great way in reassuring the American Muslim community, discouraging Islamophobia, and lowering the spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes.

President-Elect Trump, it is time to act Presidential and be a President for all Americans, including us, the millions of Muslims who are proud to be citizens of this great nation.

Dr. John Andrew Morrow is the author of The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World and the Director of the Covenants Initiative, an international movement devoted to protecting persecuted Christians as well as Shiites, Sufis, traditional Sunnis, and Yazidis. His websites include www.covenantsoftheprophet.com andwww.johnandrewmorrow.com. His Twitter account is @drjamorrow. He can also be followed on his various Facebook pages: @johnandrewmorrow and @covenantsoftheprophet

 

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Washington will more than double its number of its troops in Iraq as part of the US’ plans for a post-IS vision, a senior Baghdad minister told The New Arab.

US policy makers plan an “indefinite” military presence in Iraq and will double the number of American soldiers in the country to 10,000, a senior Iraqi official said on Saturday.

The reports come amid heated controversy in Baghdad concerning the presence of the US forces in Iraq following the expected defeated of Islamic State group militants.

The US military presence is said to focus on providing combat support and strategic advice to the Iraqi military, as well as overseeing reforms of the Baghdad army, the senior minister in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government told The New Arab.

“Washington will not extend its presence on Iraqi soil through new military bases, but it will deploy more soldiers to currently existing bases in the capital Baghdad, the Anbar and Nineveh provinces as well as the Kurdistan region,” the minister told The New Arab, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

He said that the increased presence will further focus on securing the porous Iraqi-Syrian border as well as assisting reforms of the Iraqi police and intelligence services.

“The US will also expand its monitoring systems and aerial surveillance as well as partake in securing the Iraqi border with Syria,” the minister said.

The US military presence will allegedly focus on providing combat support and strategic advice to the Iraq military as well as overseeing reforms of the Iraqi army

Despite the presence of US forces being a hugely controversial issue given the experiences since the Anglo-American invasion in 2003, a number of political blocs in the country have welcomed the move, the minister said. The senior minister added that US forces could aid refugees to returning to  their homes in regions affected by fighting, as well as “strengthen local police forces and intelligence services in those areas”.
He added that the Iraqi prime minister may not be able to object to US plans given the government’s reliance on US forces in the fight against IS.

“Most political factions – including Sunni, Kurdish, Christian and Turkmen – welcomed US extended presence in Iraq, which they consider to counter Iranian influence in the country,” the minister said.

Abadi cannot reject Washington’s plan because capturing Mosul from IS militants will be impossible without the US-led coalition’s support.

Since June 2014 US military forces have conducted airstrikes against IS in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition, which saw over 5,000 US military personnel gradually sent on “advise and assist” missions to support Iraqi federal and Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling militants.

US special forces are reported to have also conducted ground operations against IS militants with at least American troops reported killed as part of the anti-IS campaign.

Plans for a permanent presence were heavily opposed in 2011, which saw several major Iraqi political parties reject what they termed an “occupation”.

Plans for a permanent presence were heavily opposed in 2011 which saw several major Iraqi political parties reject what they termed would be an occupation

“Washington does not intend to withdraw from Iraq even after the end of IS,” he said, adding that it is “now obvious”.Some political parties are already preparing to oppose the deployment of US troops.

An Iraqi MP from the ruling National Alliance told The New Arab – also speaking on the condition of anonymity – that US aims for a permanent presence will be heavily opposed by the Shia-led bloc.

The lawmaker said that American troops will remain in Iraq under the pretext that the US is “reforming the Iraqi armed forces and local police, or that its presence is needed to maintain stability and ensure that IS cells for not form or that it will help with the reconstruction of the country”.

“The National Alliance rejects US presence in Iraq based on the Iraq-US agreement that saw the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011,” he said.

Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter gave insights into US plans for post-IS Iraq.

He said that the US and its international partners will need to remain in Iraq even after the expected defeat of IS in Mosul.

US troops will remain in Iraq under the pretext that they are reforming the Iraqi armed forces and local police

“But there will still be much more to do after that to make sure that, once defeated, ISIL stays defeated,” Carter said using an alternative acronym for IS.

“In Iraq, in particular, it will be necessary for the coalition to provide sustained assistance and carry on our work to train, equip, and support local police, border guards, and other forces to hold areas cleared from ISIL,” said Carter.

The US-Iraqi “Status of the Forces” agreement came to an end on December 31, 2011 and saw the US military withdraw its forces following a nine-year presence that brought down former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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While most of us don’t trust journalists, many of us are still under the illusion that we have a free and independent press.

The truth is we don’t.

Here’s five reasons why we should be very sceptical of the information we read in the corporate media and why there is hope for the future.

1) The billionaires that own the press set the agenda

Who owns the media shapes what stories are covered and how they are written about. The UK media has a very concentrated ownership structure, with six billionaires owning and/or having a majority of voting shares in most of the national newspapers.

True editorial independence often doesn’t exist in these papers. The owners can – and do – interfere with what is published in their publications, which editors and journalists are promoted or fired as well as which political parties the paper supports.

For example, Harold Evans, a former editor at the Sunday Times, made it very clear to the Leveson Inquiry how Rupert Murdoch interfered with the content of the paper. Evans was often rebuked for “not doing what he [Murdoch] wants in political terms,” including when reporting on the economy. Evans recounted how they almost came to “fisticuffs” because he allowed an economist (James Tobin) to publish an article with differing viewpoints to Murdoch in the Sunday Times. According to Evans, Murdoch’s “determination to impose his will” destroyed the “editorial guarantees that he’d given.”

Evans went on to say:

“Mr Murdoch was continually sending for my staff without telling me and telling them what the paper should be. He sent for the elderly and academic Mr Hickey, who went in tremulously, to be told by Mr Murdoch, “Your leaders are too long, too complex. You should be attacking the Russians more.””

David Yelland, a former editor of The Sun – another Murdoch owned paper – admitted in an interview:

“All Murdoch editors, what they do is this: they go on a journey where they end up agreeing with everything Rupert says but you don’t admit to yourself that you’re being influenced. Most Murdoch editors wake up in the morning, switch on the radio, hear that something has happened and think: what would Rupert think about this? It’s like a mantra inside your head, it’s like a prism. You look at the world through Rupert’s eyes.”

During the Leveson inquiry, when asked about this, Murdoch was also reminded he had previously said, “If you want to judge my thinking, look at the Sun.” Murdoch admitted that frequent phone calls happened between the editors and him, although as Yelland shows, the influence of Murdoch could also be more subtle, with editors internalising his values and opinions.

Even The Guardian is compromised, although not as much as other national media companies. The Scott Trust Limited, which owns The Guardian, is wholly owned by the company directors who are prohibited from taking any dividends. The Guardian also claims to be guided by a range of progressive values, including the task of maintaining its editorial independence. However, as Nafeez Ahmed points out in Insurge Intelligence, some members of its board are ex-financiers – binding the Guardian into Britain’s murky financial world in a way which may surprise many of its readers.

With six billionaires as majority voting shareholders for most of the UK national newspapers, it is unsurprising that they mostly supported the Conservatives in the last general election. The Conservatives reduced the top tax rate, and want to reduce it further, giving millionaires and billionaires massive tax breaks. Under the current media ownership structure, how much hope is there of genuine progressive agendas to reduce wealth, income and power inequality that also threatens the interests of the billionaires and companies that own the press?

2) Corporate advertising revenue censors the content

The media relies heavily on corporate advertising, often for more than 50% of its revenue. Just how much varies for different media outlets. Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator at The Telegraph, resigned from his job after he was censored from writing about HSBC because it was one of the paper’s major corporate advertisers. He wrote in openDemocracy:

“From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged…Its account, I have been told by an extremely well informed insider, was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is ‘the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend.’”

Oborne went on to say:

“The Telegraph’s recent coverage of HSBC amounts to a form of fraud on its readers. It has been placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers. There is only one word to describe this situation: terrible.”

This situation is not exclusive to the Telegraph. As Nafeez Ahmed points out:

“Here’s something you won’t read in the Guardian. During the Treasury Select Committee meeting on 15th February, it emerged that the newspaper that styles itself as the world’s “leading liberal voice” happens to be the biggest recipient of HSBC advertising revenue: bigger even than the Telegraph.”

Media heavily reliant on corporate advertising is compromised as it influences what is and isn’t written about. As David Edwards and David Cromwell of Medialens have written:

“this corporate structure not only trims individual stories, it excludes entire frameworks of understanding. If writing something disagreeable about HSBC or animal rights is problematic, imagine editors consistently presenting corporate domination as a threat to human survival in an age of climate change.”

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman give many more examples of this here.

How often do we read articles in newspapers critiquing capitalism, let alone corporate capitalism? Just imagine what would happen to a newspaper’s advertising revenue if it consistently critiqued corporate capitalism. Just think what else is excluded from the press because it would seriously challenge corporate advertisers.

3) Privately educated white men dominate the media

There are different studies showing the dominance of a private-school and Oxbridge educated elite at the top of UK journalism, and the trend has been getting worse. The recent Social Mobility and Child Poverty study found out that nearly half of UK national newspaper columnists graduated from Oxford or Cambridge (as opposed to less than 1 per cent of the population) and that 54 per cent of the nation’s “top 100 media professionals” attended private schools (compared to around 7 per cent of the population).

This creates an upper middle-class worldview in much of the media – as well as in many other professions – which is divorced from the wants and needs of large parts of the population. As Oxbridge educated journalistFrank Cottrell Boyce, has written in The Independent:

“Only 25 per cent of the population earns more than £30,000 a year. Most media commentators (including me) do. For people like me, the country basically works. Politics doesn’t affect me. Politics, for me, is about how other people are treated. It’s easy inside my echo-chamber to believe that I am the norm, or the middle. Easy to forget that there are voices outside.

“To people in my position, austerity can be read as regrettable but pragmatic. But to my friends and family, who live outside the bubble, it’s not regrettable, it’s terrifying. It’s also not pragmatic. The crackpot, gimcrack ideological nature of austerity becomes more apparent the closer you get to the point of delivery.”

Mark Mardell, a privately educated journalist, echoed a similar but tamer view for the BBC:

“It is hardly surprising that Westminster journalists crave the ideologically soft centre. None is on the minimum wage, let alone tax credits, nor are any, to my knowledge, owners of third homes on the Cayman Islands, or running big corporations. They are nearly all university educated and live in London or the South East of England (Yes, all that goes for me, too). There is group-think in the muddled middle, a fear of thinking outside a comfortable box.”

It is not just private and Oxbridge education which dominates the media. Due to the under-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) journalists, as well as the frequent racist portrayal of BAME people in the media, Media Diversified was set up to try and combat this.

Women are also heavily under-represented, both in journalists employed but also in the amount of coverage received. Research on the UK media by Professor Lis Howell found that between April 2014 and September 2015 the number of male experts interviewed on flagship news programmes outnumbered female experts by 3.16: 1, with ITV News at 10 having 4.9 male experts for every woman. In previous research, Prof Howell also found ten times as many UK male politicians featured on the news as female politicians. Research by Women in Journalism and others in 2012 also found that men dominated news stories in a wide range of ways, such as front page stories being about or written by men around 80 per cent of the time.

Even if they wanted to, these privileged and predominantly white, male, privately educated, Oxbridge graduates often can’t truly understand, let alone accurately represent in the media, the situations and choices faced by most people as they are outside their own life experiences.

How many have strong links with working class communities? How many of these influential journalists have been long-term unemployed, on low incomes, on benefits or tax credits, with long-term health conditions or have faced racism or sexism? How many fall back into repeating ideas to each other within the “echo-chamber” of the privately and/or Oxbridge educated, while falsely believing they are in the “muddled middle”?

4) The political use of supposedly neutral sources

The sources which are used by journalists and the range of debate published within the UK media can show us another way in which the corporate media is deeply compromised. There have been academic studies proving that systemic bias exists in how the media covers events. Three events can be used as examples – the Scottish referendum, the 2008 financial crisis and the second Iraq war.

A team of academics studied the coverage of the Scottish independence referendum between 17 September 2012 and 18 September 2013, looking at 730 hours of evening TV news output broadcast by BBC 1, Reporting Scotland, ITV and Scottish TV (STV), and found them all to be biased against Scottish independence.

 

(Professor John Robertson summarising his research and the different ways the media was biased against Scottish independence)

As Professor Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has outlined, anti-independence statements were aired over pro-independence statements at a ratio of around 3:2 on most channels. The research also showed a clear tendency to use anti-independence over pro-independence ‘expert’ sources, including from organisations presented as independent and/or impartial despite their linkages to UK government departments with a vested interest in maintaining the union.

After Robertson’s research was published it was stonewalled and mostly unreported by the BBC. The BBC then went above Robertson’s head to his Principal at the UWS to try (unsuccessfully) to discredit the research and colleagues of his were even warned to “stay away” from him! Robertson followed up this research with a one-month intensive study of BBC Scotland’s extended ‘flagship’ politics show, Good Morning Scotland, which found similar bias around the independence campaign.

Paul Mason, former economics editor for the BBC’s Newsnight and economics editor for Channel 4 News, confirmed this bias when he later told his Facebook followers of the BBCs referendum coverage: “Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I’m out of there.”

Other studies of the media have found similar results of bias in relation to the financial crisis. Dr Mike Berry, of Cardiff University, authored such a study – The Today programme and the banking crisis (not open access). The table below, from the study, shows the sources featured during the intense six weeks of coverage on the BBC’s Today programme following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

These numbers are even likely to be skewed. Mike Berry points out that many of the individuals clas­sified as politicians, regulators, academics and business representatives “also have close links with the City and broader financial services community,” and therefore the prominence of ‘City voices’ is “very conservatively estimated.”

He continues:

“Since the main three British political parties during this period were all committed to free markets and ‘light touch’ regulation, there is a narrowness in the range of opinion available to listeners. This is magnified by the presence of other groups such as business lobbyists, neoclassical economists and journalists from the financial press who all tend to share a similar laissez-faire outlook on how the economy should be managed. Organised labour is almost completely absent from the Today programme with only a single appearance from one union leader (0.4%).”

Considering the impact of the financial crisis on the UK workforce, and that trade unions represent the largest mass democratic organisations in civil society, such invisibility shows the BBC is not truly committed to impartial and balanced coverage.

As Mike Berry points out in The Conversation, opinion of the financial crisis:

“was almost completely dominated by stockbrokers, investment bankers, hedge fund managers and other City voices. Civil society voices or commentators who questioned the benefits of having such a large finance sector were almost completely absent from coverage. The fact that the City financiers who had caused the crisis were given almost monopoly status to frame debate again demonstrates the prominence of pro-business perspectives.”

The choice of sources used not only influences whether countries become independent, or how financial sectors are regulated or nationalised, but whether they go to war or not. The practice of uncritically using (anonymous) government sources is often used to justify war and state oppression, as Glenn Greenwald points out in The Intercept:

“Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major U.S. and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area.”

Greenwald goes on to say of an article in the Sunday Times, which was used to smear whistleblower Edward Snowden:

“The whole article does literally nothing other than quote anonymous British officials. It gives voice to banal but inflammatory accusations that are made about every whistleblower from Daniel Ellsberg to Chelsea Manning. It offers zero evidence or confirmation for any of its claims. The “journalists” who wrote it neither questioned any of the official assertions nor even quoted anyone who denies them. It’s pure stenography of the worst kind.”

This kind of reporting increases the likelihood of war and state oppression. A 2013 UK ComRes poll – which was almost entirely ignored by the media when it was published – showed how the media had completely failed to educate the population about the devastating human death toll of the war. Most people vastly underestimated how many people died in the Iraq war, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of the public estimating that 20,000 or fewer civilians and combatants died as a consequence of the war in Iraq since 2003, with around 40 per cent thinking 5,000 or less had died.

The real figures of how many people died in the Iraq war are several hundred thousand, with it highly likely to be at least 500,000, which different large academic studies have confirmed (e.g. The LancetPLOS Medicine). As Alex Thomson, one of the very few prominent journalists that commented on the poll, wrote on the Channel 4 blog:

“If we believe the results, then war-makers in government will take great comfort, as will the generals who work so hard to peddle the lie of bloodless warfare, with all the cockpit video propaganda video news releases and talk of “collateral damage” instead of “dead children”.

“Equally – questions for us on the media that after so much time, effort and money, the public perception of bloodshed remains stubbornly, wildly, wrong.”

Joe Emersberger was even more damning, writing at SpinWatch:

“The poll results are a striking illustration of how a “free press” imposes ignorance on the public in order to promote war. Future wars (or “interventions”) are obviously far more likely when the public within an aggressor state is kept clueless about the human cost.”

5) The intelligence services manipulate the press

While it is almost impossible to distinguish between conspiracy theories and to prove the extent to which intelligence services and specialised police units have infiltrated the media, Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln, thinks “from the limited evidence [their influence] looks to be enormous.” Keeble has written on the history of the links between journalists and the intelligence services in the book chapter – Hacks and Spooks – Close Encounters of a Strange Kind: A Critical History of the Links between Mainstream Journalists and the Intelligence Services in the UK. He quotes Roy Greenslade, who has been a media specialist for both the Telegraph and the Guardian, as saying: “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5.”

Keeble goes on to say:

“Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of “one of Britain’s most distinguished journals” as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.”

Keeble has given many more examples in his book chapter of the intelligence services infiltrating the media and changing the politics of the time, including around the miners strikes and Arthur Scargill in the 1980s and during the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003.

The recent revelations by former CIA employee Edward Snowden showed the extent of co-ordination between the spy agencies of the UK and America – especially between GCHQ and the NSA. They showed, for example, that western intelligence agencies attempt to manipulate and control online discourse with various tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.

David Leigh, former investigations editor of The Guardian, wrote about a series of instances in which the secret services manipulated prominent journalists. He claims reporters are routinely approached and manipulated by intelligence agents and identifies three ways – providing examples for each in his article – in which they do it:

• They attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people or themselves attempt to go under journalistic “cover.”

• They allow intelligence officers to pose as journalists “to write tendentious articles under false names.”

• And “the most malicious form”: they plant intelligence agency propaganda stories on willing journalists who disguise their origin from readers.

Leigh partly concludes that:

“We all ought to come clean about these approaches and devise some ethics to deal with them. In our vanity, we imagine that we control these sources. But the truth is that they are very deliberately seeking to control us.”

So why do many journalists continue to be duped by the intelligence services? And why are they not open about these attempts to manipulate them? David Rose, a journalist who admitted he had been the victim of a “calculated set-up” devised to foster the propaganda case for the war in Iraq, wrote in the New Statesman:

“One reason, aside from the lunches and the limos, is that editors are extremely reluctant to lose the access they have: the spooks’ stories may be unreliable, but they often make good copy, and if everyone is peddling the same errors, it doesn’t much matter if they turn out to be untrue. Another, as a seasoned BBC correspondent put it to me, may be a judgment that if MI5 and MI6 sometimes peddle disinformation many viewers and readers may not very much care as ‘we’re all on the same side.’”

While we will never know the true extent of secret service influence on the media, there is no doubt that it does happen. And while some BBC correspondents may think that “we’re all on the same side” and that it doesn’t matter if MI5 and MI6 sometimes peddle disinformation, the truth is that it can sometimes have disastrous consequences, such as making war much more likely. The recent Iraq war showed us that the secret services are not always acting in the public interest.

What are the alternatives? 

Our media system is deeply compromised. However there is some hope for the future as ideas not normally in the corporate media are increasingly being distributed through other channels – especially through the internet, alternative media and media co-operatives.

Alternative media such as openDemocracyIndymediaDemocracy Now and Red Pepper have existed for years, while The Canary was launched online a year ago. There has also been a resurgence of co-operatively owned media after some failed experiments in the 1970s, with The New Internationalist (now apparently the UK’s oldest workers’ co-operative) still surviving from that period. These media co-operatives are either owned by their workers, their readers or both as multi-stakeholder co-operatives. Corporate Watch and Strike! Magazine – both workers’ co-operatives – have been running since 1996 and 2012 respectively. The Morning Star has been a reader owned co-operative for several years. Ethical Consumer converted into a multi-stakeholder co-operative in 2008. The Bristol Cable has recently been created by local residents as a co-operative. Positive News has recently been crowdfunded by its readers to be a co-operative. STIR magazine is planning to transition to a co-operative structure. In the UK the co-operative movement founded their own publication in 1871 to report on the co-operative movement – the Co-operative Press – which continues as Co-operative News to this day.

There has been a surge in Scottish alternative and co-operative media. The West Highland Free Press was bought out by its employees in 2009. Bella Caledonia emerged before the Scottish referendum, and after it The Ferret was crowdfunded to pursue investigative journalism as a co-operative owned by its subscribers and journalists, and Common Space was established as a crowd-funded rolling news service.

There have also been efforts to support investigative journalism. Websites such as Patreon enable readers to support investigative journalists directly. The Bureau for Investigative Journalism also funds and supports investigative journalism. Wikileaks has also provided a very valuable resource for journalists trying to investigate what is actually going on.

Globally, there are many more examples of alternative and co-operative media. The Media Co-op is a network of local multi-stakeholder media co-operatives providing grassroots, democratic coverage of Canadian communities. The Real News is a non-profit, viewer-supported daily video-news and documentary service based in the United States. ZNet is a viewer supported alternative media outlet based in the US.

Critical perspectives on the media appear with MediaLensSpinwatchOff Guardian and BS News in the UK as well as FAIR and many others in the US.

However, alternative media does vary in quality. As has been much discussed since Donald Trump’s election, alternative (as well as corporate) media can be fake, far-right and/or not sufficiently fact-checked. Only if alternative/co-operative/investigative journalism is financially supported by its readers will they be able to research and write high quality articles. Together we have immense resources and power to support non-corporate media if we choose to. The Media Fund – which itself will be a multi-stakeholder co-operative – recentlycrowdfunded £10,000 to support the UK’s media revolution, but much more is needed to ensure its success.

Other information sources (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) – which although are corporations themselves – provide access to different viewpoints, but they can also create bubbles where people with similar beliefs follow each other and they can be compromised and censored by the corporations themselves (censorship of TwitterFacebook and YouTube exists, including of large numbers of Palestinian posts, pages and accounts). There are also dangers with the idea that everything we say should be connected to a personal profile – there are real benefits to anonymity as shown by the countless people in prison or facing trial in the Middle East for their posts on corporate social media. Ideally, for alternative media to be truly successful, we need to create alternatives to Facebook and Twitter that are open source, collectively owned and which allow anonymity if desired.

As the internet generation gets older, and hopefully less exclusively reliant on the corporate media, maybe things will continue to change. Despite relentless aggressive attacks by the corporate media against Jeremy Corbyn, which unmasked supposedly left-wing newspapers like the Guardian which three academic studies have recently confirmed, he managed to win two Labour leadership elections by a landslide. A poll of those eligible to vote for Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour leadership election a year ago found that for 57 per cent of them social media was a main source of news, as compared to around 40 per cent for the other candidates. Social and alternative media helped lead to the rise of Corbyn and changed the limits of ‘acceptable’ debate within the Labour party.

The fact that you’re reading this means that alternative viewpoints can be sought out, read and shared. Please check out the alternative media above, share it, support it financially and/or become a member if you can. Or consider writing for – or even setting up your own – media co-operative.

Further reading:

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies

* Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media by David Edwards & David Cromwell

* Good News: A co-operative solution to the media crisis by Dave Boyle

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything by Joe Trippi

* How Thatcher and Murdoch made their secret deal by Harold Evans

Documentaries on the corporate media:

Outfoxed

Spin

Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Media

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Government buses en route to evacuate the sick and injured from two government-held villages in the province of Idlib were burned by the so-called “moderate opposition” on December 18.

The villages of Foah and Kefraya are encircled by a coalition of militant groups led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).

The Aleppo evacuation agreement included the demand to militants to allow people to evacuate from these villages.

However, all buses sent for this were attacked and torched.

The so-called “opposition” denied  despite video and photo evidence confirming that its fighters were involved in the crime. Some Turkish media even suggested  that  “Shia militias” and “pro-Assad terrorist groups” burned the buses.

 
The Syrian army, the National Defense Forces and Hezbollah are putting pressure on an ISIS force in the area west of Palmyra in the province of Homs.

By December 18, government forces have pushed ISIS units from the areas southwest of Palmyra and secured the Tyas-Qaryatayn road. This move allowed the Syrian army and its allies to repel the threat of encirclement of the Tyas Airbase by ISIS forces. On December 19, the army and its allies continued to develop the advance in the directions of Bayt Jarbu al Azw and Baydah. Government forces allegedly use the Russian-made heavy flame-thrower system TOS-1A “Solntsepyok” against ISIS in the area.

ISIS reportedly destroyed 3 battle tanks, 2 vehicles and to damage 4 battle tanks belonging to the Syrian army. Pro-government sources report that ISIS lost some 4 battle tanks and 10 fighters. Over 50 airstrikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes were reported on December 18. The US-led coalition’s airpower also delivered some 30 airstrikes against ISIS units in the area.

Kurdish YPG forces have reached the Tabqa dam reservoir and encircled ISIS units in Jurniyah, al Dybh, Abdullah al-Masoud Hamidi, Bisrawi, Abu Jiddi, Msheirfet Eljerniyeh, Khabat al-Sharafat and nearby areas.

The Syrian military reportedly issued a nationwide call for military reserves to return to active duty on December 18. This has been the biggest mobilization effort since the start of the Syrian war and probably since the Arab–Israeli War in 1973. Some experts suggest that reservists will serve in security forces formed to maintain stability in the recently liberated areas as Aleppo and Western Ghouta – the move that SouthFront predicted on December 14 in an analysis of possible developments after the liberation of Aleppo. This will allow to free significant number of active soldiers for further offensive operations.

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After the Liberation of Aleppo Comes the Psyops War

December 19th, 2016 by Paul Mansfield

As the Syrian Army completes the liberation of Aleppo from Al-Qaeda-led terrorist groups, you would think that there would be universal celebration of a landmark defeat of international terrorism. Not so, as we are assailed with reports of Syrian-led forces committing cold-blooded executions, women committing suicide, fearing they will be raped by Syrian soldiers, people burned alive, and reports of rape against the civilian population.

The above are all unverified allegations at this stage. They are coming from the opposition militant groups themselves, groups firmly aligned with the opposition and a whole array of “activists” posting on Twitter and Facebook, some of whom are finding themselves becoming instant mainstream media hits.

The most disturbing aspect is that the mainstream media are reporting unverified allegations as fact. This is the definition of fake news.

Reports emerged of at least 82 civilians being executed as the Syrian Army and allied militias clean up the last areas under rebel control. “The reports we had are of people being shot in the street trying to flee and shot in their homes,” said Rupert Colville, a U.N. spokesman. “There could be many more.”

The mainstream media were bursting at the seams to inform all and sundry of these unsubstantiated revelations. The Daily Beasthardly known for its balance on Syria, claimed that for the remaining civilians in the rebel-held pocket, “fear of arrest, conscription or summary execution added to the daily terror of bombardment.” It also quoted Abu Malek al-Shamali in Seif al-Dawla, one of the last rebel-held districts, as claiming the Syrian troops are asking families if they have sons with opposition groups, then, depending on the response, either leaving them alone or shooting them and leaving them to die.

The BBC got in on the act, reporting the slaughter of civilians, “including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says.” They conveniently forgot to mention that the United Nations, not being on the ground in Aleppo, are relying on unverified sources, which may prove to be unreliable, and may themselves not even be on the ground in Aleppo.

Colville looked decidedly unclear as to who carried out these claimed atrocities. He said one Iraqi militia was involved and reports said they were carried out in four locations, so there could have been more than one group carrying out the killings. Again, these unverified allegations. It all sounds inconclusive and vague. That’s natural, as we don’t even know if the massacres happened yet, let alone who carried them out. Yet they make worldwide headlines. Is the fakerstan media setting themselves up again to be bought down in a screaming heap of fake news?

Jan Egeland, the UN’s humanitarian adviser on Syria, was prepared to attribute blame for what he said were “massacres of unarmed civilians, of young men, of women, children, health workers.” He too named an Iraqi Shia militia as being responsible, but placed responsibility on the governments of Syria and Russia.

Many in the general public may be gullible, but you would think Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, would be more circumspect. But no, he appears on Democracy Now and states as fact the uncorroborated reports from the CIA/MI6-funded White Helmets of the summary execution of civilians, including women and children. Stephen Cohen questions why Roth embraces one narrative — genocidal actions by the Syrian-led forces, to the exclusion of another — the people of Aleppo celebrating their liberation by the same Syrian-led forces.

Brandon Turbeville, in Activist Post, examines a breathtaking piece of NBC propaganda written by Alastair Jamieson and Mac William Bishop. In this testimony to biased reporting they wrap their heads around three grave allegations in one sentence:

Citing accounts of women and children being burned alive and of families choosing suicide over surrender, the UN human rights office said it received reports of pro-government forces killing at least 82 people as they tightened their grip on the city.

Our reporters at NBC are showing once again why they have forfeited the right to be the custodians of independent, balanced journalism. The UN has not made claims of people being burned alive or choosing suicide. Also the authors give much more credence to the claim of 82 people being executed by omitting that the reports are unverified at this stage.

For attribution to the claims of mass suicide and massacres, the article goes on to mention Charles Lister, an apologist for terrorist factions in Syria and a rabid proponent for increased western military intervention in Syria:

Charles Lister, a Syria expert and senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said there were “truly shocking stories from Aleppo including husbands and wives taking each other’s lives in family suicides” and that hundreds may have died during Monday’s fighting.

It goes without saying that Lister is not on the ground in Aleppo. His status as a Syria “expert” has more to do with feathering his own nest with the powerful backers of regime change in the military/industrial/security complex than any purpose of noble intent.

But never fear; there are sources on the ground making these assertions. One such source is Abdullah Othman, the head of the Consultative Council in the Levant Front, one of the largest militant groups in Aleppo. He claimed 79 people were “executed at the barricades” and said: “This morning 20 women committed suicide in order not to be raped.” To gain some perspective on this report, imagine any mainstream media outlet affording any similar statements by the Syrian government the slightest vestige of credibility. No, accusations of crimes against humanity and merciless barrel bombing of civilians monopolise the mainstream media coverage when it comes to Bashar al-Assad.

But just when you think local jihadis and partisan pundits of the war machine are the extent of such reporting, in steps France’s top diplomat, Jean-Marc Ayrault. He issued a statement saying, “cold-blooded assassinations of entire families […] executions, particularly of women and children; People burned alive in their homes; continued targeting of hospitals… Such atrocities revolt consciences. More than ever, there is an urgent need to stop hostilities in Aleppo.”

Such bellicose statements emanating from Paris have become predictable if still disappointing and stand in stark contrast to scenes of celebration across Eastern Aleppo as civilians welcome their liberation after four long years of terrorist rule.

The Daily Beast continued with the wild accusations, going on to accuse Syrian soldiers of rape “in the course of the Assadist blitzkrieg.” It was joined in this orgy of unfounded accusations by Alraby, who headlined with:

Syrian regime forces have allegedly committed public mass executions, sexual assaults and burned bodies in the streets of east Aleppo, the UN and local media have reported.

Rycroft bleated out: “This is a dark day for the people of Aleppo, surely the darkest of the past five years. Assad’s forces, propped up by Russia and Iran have once again redefined horror. They have gone from siege to slaughter.”

Once again, we had hysteria at the United Nations, with Samantha Power and Matthew Rycroft leading the charge of the indignant brigade.

He went on to repeat all the shocking but unverified claims of summary executions, women committing suicide in order not to be raped, people being burned alive and hundreds of men being abducted by Syrian forces. He takes these unproven accusations and transforms them into facts, linking them to the darkest of past war crimes after which the world said “never again.” He wrapped up by outrageously claiming this was the “fall” of Aleppo. One could hardly have expected a more mournful tone if ISIS had just captured Aleppo. The irony is that Aleppo has just been liberated from Al-Qaeda-led terrorist forces, barely indistinguishable from ISIS.

Vitaly Churkin quite appropriately said Power was acting as if she was “Mother Teresa,” pointed out the hypocrisy of the US and UK and reminded us all that the actions of the US and UK in Iraq gave birth to the rise of ISIS.

Power, she of the unmatched acid tongue and drenched in hypocrisy, waxed lyrical with this: “Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later – Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica and now Aleppo”…”Up to 100 children are reportedly trapped right now in a building under heavy fire. Terrorists, clearly, young children, they must be terrorists. Because everybody being executed, everybody being barrel bombed, everybody who has been chlorine attacked, you’re going to be told they’re all terrorists.”

Here are the top diplomats from countries backing the butchering of civilians in Yemen and who butchered civilians in Iraq and Libya. They are financially and morally supporting terrorists butchering civilians in Syria. They tell us clearly with their comparison of the “fall of Aeppo” to ISIS taking over cities in Iraq and Syria, that Russia and Syria are in the same barbaric league as ISIS. I am sorry, but it is you, the US and UK, who are in the same league as ISIS, whom you created from the ruins of Iraq and continue to arm and fund as they lay waste to Syria. The Anglo-Amercian alliance once again proves itself the most capable in spewing forth vitriol and knocking the international community out with its staggering hypocrisy.

Paris showed its perplexing solidarity with Al-Qaeda by turning off the Eiffel Tower lights, stating it was done as a mark of solidarity with the people of Aleppo. Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s office released a statement saying the symbolic act aimed to “once again alert the international community to the need for urgent action.” It obviously doesn’t interpret as urgent action the assistance in fighting terrorism provided to the people of Syria by Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and various militia groups.

Paris would have been best advised to have turned off the Eiffel Tower lights when ISIS seized Palmyra and Raqqa, as they are terrorists who went on blood-letting sprees against terrified populations and captured soldiers. To do this when the legitimate government of Syria has finally liberated long-suffering citizens from four years of hell is a gross insult. How quickly forgotten are the 130 people butchered in the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015. This shameless display of terrorist adoration is a mockery of the people of Syria and France.

© Tim Anderson / Facebook
Imperial despair simply confirms the magnitude of the #AleppoVictory.

As well as the death of mainstream media, we are witnessing the death of the NATO political elite’s credibility. I would say their morality too, but that went a long time ago.

The reality which western politicians and fakerstan media can’t handle is that the streets of Aleppo erupted with wild celebrations upon the Syrian Army and its allies finally liberating the city.

People sang and danced, chanting their appreciation to their army for liberating them from the grip of terrorists. Stories have been recounted of the terrorist groups stockpiling aiddenying people food and medical suppliesholding them as human shieldsthreatening them if they dare try to leave and of abuse and executions of civilians.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation has coordinated with the Syrian government to evacuate over 100,000 people. Some still remain in the last tiny pocket of opposition-held territory, as the deal to evacuate the last fighters and their families has stalled amid accusations from both sides of the cease fire being breached.

The tired and hungry residents of Aleppo are being provided with much-needed food, medical treatment, clothes and blankets and shelter in internally displaced persons camps. The images of this are unmistakable. Despite this we still hear from the western media that people are fleeing the fighting, that regime soldiers have taken over the devastated city, that people trapped inside East Aleppo have held out for four years of bombardment and siege and that far from being a battle of liberation this is a Russian and Syrian regime “onslaught.” The word liberation is nowhere to be found. A bit like the honesty and integrity of the mainstream fakerstan media.

Independent journalist Vanessa Beeley is on the ground in Aleppo, unlike the journalists tucked up in comfortable offices in Beirut and Ankara. She has visited the newly liberated areas of East Aleppo, spoken to people grateful to have escaped the clutches of terrorist groups, heard the horror stories of life under their control and witnessed the provision of badly needed humanitarian aid by Syrian, Russian and other aid agencies.

Beeley wrote on her Facebook page:

Jibreen East #Aleppo. Today we visited the area that welcomes the civilians who have escaped from NATO and Gulf State funded terrorist imprisonment in districts of East Aleppo.

In this area, civilians are given food, medical care and assessment and they register with the Syrian authorities before joining families in West Aleppo or entering the IDP camps in Jibreen. Those families who don’t have IDs are given a paper that enables them to travel in Syria until their IDs are replaced.

© Vanessa Beeley #Aleppo

We were told that up until today, 95,000 civilians had been registered, from East Aleppo. This number can probably be increased by a further 10% as some women and children had gone directly to their families in West Aleppo without registering.

We were confronted by emaciated, exhausted children. Mothers whose sons had been murdered by the terrorists for no reason. Syrian civilians, sick and malnourished, broke down in tears as they recounted the atrocities they had suffered at the hands of these so called “moderate rebels”.

One woman started talking and burst into tears, the relief of getting out of East Aleppo was too much for her and the horror she had lived through overwhelmed her. The terrorists had murdered two of her 12 sons because her other sons were fighting in the Syrian army. She had been sick for many months but she said no civilians were treated in the makeshift terrorist field hospitals, only fighters were given any help.

She wept again when I asked her what she thought of the western media narrative, that the SAA were killing civilians. She said quite simply “yesterday we were in Hell, today our life begins again”.

I will be writing up all testimonies and uploading all video interviews…but please dont fall for the corporate media lies based on spurious sources, the majority of whom are now in Turkey, fake photos and evil propaganda that works only to ensure the perpetual misery of the Syrian people.

I was allowed into one of the Russian field hospitals on site..Russian doctors were efficiently and kindly treating all manner of injuries. One young man, skin and bones, had great difficulty breathing. Another was having a dressing changed on an open wound on his leg. Russian doctors were administering clean bandages with no fake blood or special effects. This was real humanitarianism in action.

Bartlett has been to Syria six times, so knows the people and has a very good understanding of what is actually happening in Syria.

The mainstream media have no sources on the ground to verify their accusations. Eva Bartlett, appearing at a United Nations panel, slapped down their narrative in an outstanding performance which has gone viral online.
Asked by a Norwegian journalist about the reports of”international organisations” who report the “facts” of hospitals and schools being deliberately bombed, Bartlett set the record straight on exactly where these explosive accusations come from.

Bartlett responded by pointing out that there are no international organisations on the ground. They rely on compromised groups such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the White Helmets for their information.

The White Helmets is a CIA/MI6 creation funded to the tune of $100 million by the US/UK/European and other states. It has been accused of faking its rescue scenes, operates only in rebel-held territory and there is a plethora of video footage of White Helmets members waving guns around, celebrating with terrorist groups and standing over and mocking the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers. “Your sources on the ground, you don’t have them,” Bartlett said.

Taking a much needed swipe at the mainstream media, Bartlett said, “(that) the people support their army and government is absolutely true….whatever you hear in the corporate media is the complete opposite…and I will name them, BBC, GuardianNew York Times, etc. on Aleppo is also opposite of reality.”

Bartlett criticised what she correctly called another effort in the United Nations Security Council for a “useless ceasefire,” which is simply a cynical ploy by the supporters of the terrorist factions to buy them time to regroup and resupply, thus prolonging the final liberation and suffering of people held hostage in Aleppo.

Bartlett spoke of the other siege we don’t hear about in the fakerstan media, the siege of West Aleppo. People have suffered from the denial of food and medicine, electricity and water, and from constant bombardment by mortars, gas canister bombs (the infamous hell cannons), water heater bombs, artillery shells and grad rockets.

Bartlett spoke of the myth of the Syrian government deliberately starving people in Aleppo. She spoke of witness testimonies of people being held as human shields in East Aleppo, of being shot at as they tried to flee from the terrorists and being protected by the Syrian army and its allies.

What a huge disconnect from reality we see in the fakerstan media coverage in the greatest day in Aleppo for the last five years, a ray of hope for long suffering Syrians.

Paul Mansfield is a budding freelance writer who currently works in the welfare industry in Melbourne, Australia.

Areas of interest include: Russia/US conflict, wars in the Middle East, particularly Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, the occupation of Palestine by Israel, the damage to our economies from the global financial markets, the debt trap imposed on states by bankers seeking to privatize assets and “reform” economies while they line their pockets with cash and impoverish local populations.

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Sabotage of East-Aleppo Evacuation Is Part of a Plan

December 19th, 2016 by Moon of Alabama

Update (Dec 19, 0:00 EST):

  • The culprits of the bus burning were “rebels” from Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al Aqsa. Both are favorites of the CIA and Turkey and in Idleb governate aligned with and under the military command of al-Qaeda.
  • After Turkey put heavy pressure on the groups it somewhat controls the evacuation deal is, for now, back on. The first exchange bus run occurrs right now. I expect a new sabotage attempt to jeopardize the deal.
  • Turkish media claim that Shia inhabitants of Fu’a and Kafraya burned the buses or that it is unknown who did it. Video and pictures proudly posted by the Takfiris themselves show that these radical Sunnis did it.

End-Update – original post follows:

The removal of defeated al-Qaeda fighters and their families from east-Aleppo has been on and off for several days now.

The agreement between Turkey and Russia on which the evacuation is based stipulates the parallel evacuation of wounded people from the al-Qaeda besieged Shiite village Fu’a and Kafraya in Idleb province. Note that neither the U.S. nor the (partisan) UN were involved in these negotiations.

The process was interrupted on Friday after al-Qaeda fighters in east-Aleppo opened fire on evacuating civilians. In parallel buses moving into Fu’a and Kafraya to evacuate the wounded were held up by al-Qaeda aligned groups in the area. Opposition claims that Hizbullah fighters was killing people that were evacuating from east-Aleppo were, according to a BBC producer, lies.

The agreement and evacuations were put on again and proceeded this morning after some new negotiations with unknown additional terms. The movements were to take place in strict parallel. Any move out of east-Aleppo on the government provided public buses would only happen at the very same moment that the wounded would move out of Fu’a and Kafraya on similar buses.

Today’s evacuations were again sabotaged by al-Qaeda forces:

Several buses en route to evacuate the sick and injured from two government-held villages in Syria’s Idlib province have been burned by rebels.The convoy was travelling to Foah and Kefraya, besieged by rebel fighters.

Pro-government forces are demanding people be allowed to leave the mainly Shia villages in order for the evacuation of east Aleppo to restart.

Thousands of people are waiting to leave in desperate conditions, reports say.

Al-Qaeda gangs themselves provided video of the bus burning. The bus drivers were likely murdered which pretty much guarantees that no further buses will come or go.

I doubt that this is a solely al-Qaeda induced incident. It seems to me that the certain U.S. forces (aka the CIA) are trying to prolong the removal of al-Qaeda from east-Aleppo for their own purpose.

Just yesterday even the Washington Post (againreported on the years long collusion between the CIA and al-Qaeda in Syria:

The CIA meanwhile continued to push a program that targeted Russia and its Syrian and Iranian allies — and helped shield Jabhat al-Nusra.

There are several “western” groups that want to keep the evacuation stalled to continue their anti-Syrian, anti-Russian and anti-Iran agenda.

The U.S. administration is miffed that it was kept out of the recent negotiations. It wants to demonstrate that any negotiations without its participation will not have any positive result.

The hundreds of “last video from Aleppo” of “Bana” and other propaganda creatures claiming to be there look like a highly coordinated Information Warfare campaign. The “Stand with Aleppo” campaign in the U.S. was started and is propelled by a Democratic party operative who is also CEO of a public relations company and “strategic affairs consultant” in Chicago, Becky Carroll. Its aim is to escalated the situation in Syria.

Meanwhile members of the Syrian opposition, or rather their “western” controllers in the CIA, are now emphasizing Iran, not Russia, as alleged spoiler in Syria. They claim, without any evidence, that Iran or its operatives held up the evacuations. This is part of a plan to preempt announced Trump policies of negotiating an end of the Syria conflict.

The French president Hollande, despised by his people and with an approval rating between 4 and 6%, is calling for another UN Security Council vote over east-Aleppo. Such a vote, demanding UN observers for the evacuation, is intended to hold it up. Observers would need days to be in place and would lack any reasonable protection. Hollande also wants to provide food to the non-existing “civilians” in east-Aleppo while Reuters provides video showing that al-Qaeda and allies in east-Aleppo have horded enough food for years. The idea behind the UNSC resolution is to let it fail and to then go to the UN General Assembly which, under the right pressure, might allow a war by any nation against Syria.

Earlier Hollande ordered the lights at the Eiffel tower to be turned off to mourn the liberation of Aleppo from Takfiris and to make it look like the flag of his defeated al-Qaeda friends. His sponsors in Qatar and Saudi Arabia will reward his principled stand.

With the burning of the buses the evacuation agreement is dead and unlikely to be revived.

The Syrian army should tell al-Qaeda in Aleppo that there will be no longer be any ceasefire. It must make clear that they will now either be interned or killed. The final fighting should be over in a day or two. Meanwhile as much air support as possible should be provided to the defenders at Fu’a and Kafraya.

The Russian military learned the hard way in Grozny that any ceasefire or pause you give to a mostly defeated enemy only helps the enemy and will, in the end, cost more lives on both sides.

Putin and Lavrov have fallen for various negotiation scams with the U.S. that were designed to only hold back attacks on al-Qaeda and allies so that those forces could reorganize and resupply for renewed attacks on government held areas. Kerry’s promises to separate “moderates” from al-Qaeda in Syria was repeated over months until he finally claimed that the groups were too “marbled” to be taken apart. U.S. military attacks on Syrian government forces were launched to sabotage any agreement. Similar deceiving delaying tactics are now evident with the negotiated evacuation of east-Aleppo.

Meanwhile the next al-Qaeda stronghold to be attacked by government forces in the governate and city of Idleb can be prepared for defense. With the Syrian army and its allies still busy in Aleppo new arms supplies can arrive in Idleb and new formations can be organized. The British government even sends more troops to train “moderate” al-Qaeda allies.

It is time to end such sorry play. Clean up Aleppo already. Hollande, Samantha Power and other stooges will howl anyway – no matter how the final scene is done.

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The Doctrine of the “Odious Debt”

December 19th, 2016 by Eric Toussaint

Alexander Nahum Sack (Moscow 1890 – New York 1955), a Russian lawyer who taught in Saint Petersburg then in Paris, is considered to be one of the founders of the doctrine of odious debt. The doctrine, based on a series of precedents in jurisprudence, has come in for a lot of debate.

So, what is Alexandre Sack’s concept of odious debt?

The excerpt from Sack’s book on the subject that is the most referred to can be confusing.

“If a despotic power contracts debt, not for the needs and interest of the State, but to strengthen its despotic regime, to oppress the population that combats it, that debt is odious for the whole State. The debt need not be recognised by the Nation: it is a debt of the regime, a personal debt of the power that contracted it and consequently falls along with the power that contracted it.” (p. 157). |1| “These ‘odious’ debts cannot be considered to be a liability of the State’s territory because one of the necessary conditions that determine the regularity of State debt is missing; a State’s debts must be incurred and the funds thus made available used for the needs and in the interests of the State (see above, § 6). ‘Odious’ debts incurred and used, with creditors’ foreknowledge, for purposes that are not in the interests of the Nation do not engage the Nation, should the Nation rid itself of the government that incurred them (…). The creditors have committed a hostile act towards the people; they cannot therefore hold the people responsible for the debts that a despotic power incurred against the people’s interest and are the personal debts of the despotic regime.” (p. 158).

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Many of the remarks on this excerpt conclude that Sack pretends that for a debt to be “odious” it has to be contracted by a despotic regime. This is not Sack’s position. In fact, as a lawyer he considered that several circumstances could give rise to debt of an odious character. The above quote mentions only one possible circumstance.

The CADTM and myself have committed the error of thinking that Sack considered a despotic regime to be a sine qua non condition of odious debt. We disagreed with Sack on this point and have often expressed our disagreement. It is a possible and aggravating condition. This misunderstanding came about because of the most widespread of the interpretations of Sack’s doctrine. Authors, such as Sarah Ludington, G. Mitu Gulati and Alfred L. Brophy noticed this error even if they themselves do seem to think that Sack included the despotic nature of a regime as a necessary condition of odious debt in error. |2| They are convinced that the despotic nature of a regime must not be included in the conditions that define an odious debt. They go on to say, as we have already said, that ex-president Taft when judging on the Tinoco affair did not put the despotic nature of the Tinoco regime into the considerations. |3| In her article “The Doctrine of Odious Debts in International Law”, the jurist Sabine Michalowski correctly summarises Sack’s criteria. She does not include among them the despotic nature of the regime. |4|

Five pages further on Sack gives more general criteria for defining an odious debt. In this wider definition, he does not mention despotic regimes: “Consequently, for a debt, regularly incurred by a regular government (see above§§ 1 and 5) to be considered incontestably odious with all the consequences that follow, the following conditions must be fulfilled (see also above§ 6 in fine):

1. — The new government must prove and an international tribunal recognise that the following is established:

a) that the purpose which the former government wanted to cover by the debt in question was odious and clearly against the interests of the population of the whole or part of the territory, and

b) that the creditors, at the moment of the issuance of the loan, were aware of its odious purpose.

2. — once these two points are established, the burden of proof that the funds were used for the general or special needs of the State and were not of an odious character, would be upon the creditors (see also p. 170).”

Here, Sack very clearly says that a regular government’s debts may also be odious: “for a debt, regularly incurred by a regular government to be considered incontestably odious with all the consequences that follow,…”

Sack defines a regular government as follows:

“By a regular government is to be understood the supreme power that effectively exists within the limits of a given territory. Whether that government be monarchical (absolute or limited) or republican; whether it functions by “the grace of God” or “the will of the people”; whether it express “the will of the people” or not, of all the people or only of some; whether it be legally established or not, etc., none of that is relevant to the problem we are concerned with.”(p. 6)

So, in fact, there is no doubt about Sack’s position: that a regime be despotic is not a sine qua noncondition that makes debts odious and susceptible to repudiation. |5| According to Sack, all regular governments, whether despotic or democratic of some kind, may be accused of having agreed to odious debts. |6|

What does Sack mean by “a non-regular government”? Answer: A government that does not exercise control over the whole territory, such as a rebel coalition that attempts to overthrow the existing regular government. The emblematic example are the Southern US States (the Confederate States) that rebelled against the United States, which was a regular government. It therefore follows that the debts incurred by the Southern States were personal debts of the Southern insurgents, not debts that the United States should assume. If the Confederates had won the 1861-1865 Civil War they would have become the new regular government in place of the United States. |7|

What are the two criteria that establish a debt as odious? Looking again at Sack’s remarks we see: — The new government must prove and an international tribunal recognise that the following is established:

a) that the purpose which the former government wanted to cover by the debt in question was odious and clearly against the interests of the population of the whole or part of the territory, and

b) that the creditors, at the moment of the issuance of the loan, were aware of its odious purpose.

We can summarise as: a debt is odious if it has been incurred against the interests of the population and the creditors were aware of this at the time.

In an opinion published in 2002 by the IMF review Finance & Development Michael Kremer and Seema Jayachandran define the odious debt doctrine as:

“The legal doctrine of odious debt makes an analogous argument that sovereign debt incurred without the consent of the people and not benefiting the people is odious and should not be transferable to a successor government, especially if creditors are aware of these facts in advance.” |8|

This summary is at first sight convincing and does not mention, as an obligatory condition, the despotic nature of a regime. However, closer scrutiny shows that one of the conditions mentioned by the authors is not mentioned by Sack. |9| Namely: “it is incurred without the consent of the people.” The fact that Sack does not mention this condition is quite coherent with his position that the nature of the government is of no importance in this matter.

If some readers still have doubts about Sack’s position concerning despotic regimes, here is another quote: “Even when a despotic power is overthrown by another despotic power that is no less despotic and no more reflective of the will of the people, the odious debts of the fallen power remain the personal debts of the regime and the new power is not liable for them” (p. 158). For Sack only the purpose of the funds and the creditors’ knowledge of that purpose are the important elements.

Sack’s comments on several debt repudiations and abolitions

As examples of odious debts, Sack cites debts that have personally enriched government representatives, and creditors’ dishonest machinations:

“We can also put into this category of debt, loans clearly incurred in the personal interest of government members or persons and groups related to government for purposes that are not related to the government.”(p. 159)

Sack says immediately after this that debts of this kind were repudiated in the US in the 1830s, as we have seen.

Cf. the case of the repudiation of certain debts by several North American States. One of the main reasons justifying these repudiations was the squandering of the sums borrowed: they were usually borrowed to establish banks or build railways; but the banks failed and the railway lines were never built. These questionable operations were often the result of agreements between crooked members of the government and dishonest creditors.” (p. 159).

Note that in this particular case that involved four different States, these debts were not incurred by despotic governments. |10|

Sack gives another example “When a government incurs debt for the purpose of subjugating the population of a part of its territory or to colonise the same by its own colonists. These debts are odious for the indigenous population of that part of the territory.” (p. 159)

Sack mentions and comments on several cases. He starts by highlighting the fact that among the reasons the US repudiated the debts that Spain claimed on Cuba was that they had been used to maintain their colonial domination over the Cuban people. |11|

Then Sack looks at two debt abolitions that were decided in application of the Versailles treaty signed on 28 June 1919. The first concerned German and Prussian debts incurred in order to colonise Poland and to install Germans on land purchased from Poles. Following the defeat of Germany an independent Poland was restored. The Versailles treaty decreed that newly freed and independent Poland should not be held liable for debt that had been used to impose its own colonisation and subjugation. Sack had reservations about this proviso; he considered that a part of the debt should not have been abolished because it was not odious:

“The borrowing of the Prussian government over the thirty years of its colonial occupation was for the purpose of the general budget or, at least, was not for odious purposes. These debts cannot be considered as ‘odious’.” (p. 164)

Sack then comments on a second debt abolition in the Versailles treaty. The German empire was relieved of its African colonies and their debts were abolished. However, the colonies were not emancipated – they came under the control of the victorious powers. About this, Sack cites an extract of the reply that the Allies made to Germany, which was not inclined to accept forgiveness of the debt of its ex-colonies, because Germany would have to continue the repayments itself. The Allies replied:

“The colonies should not bear any portion of the German debt, nor remain under any obligation to refund to Germany the expenses incurred by the Imperial administration of the protectorate. In fact, it would be unjust to burden the natives with expenditure which appears to have been incurred in Germany’s own interest, and that it would be no less unjust to make this responsibility rest upon the Mandatory Powers which, in so far as they may be appointed trustees by the League of Nations, will derive no benefit from such trusteeship.” |12|

Here are two more comments by Sack: 

“These considerations do not seem to be totally founded. Even if the spending was done in German interests it does not necessarily follow that it was odious for the colonies (…)” (p. 162). He adds: “We can question whether it is just, (…) that the colonial debt not be put to the charge of the respective colonies, seeing that much of the funds were used on productive spending in the colonies.” (p. 161).

What really highlights Sack’s conservative, Eurocentric and colonialist attitude is that he makes no reaction to the Allies’ affirmation that they gain nothing from exercising their new protectorates over Germany’s ex-colonies. What’s more, the Allies consider that expenditures for the colonies were productive. Whereas, in fact, they were used to rule over the peoples and to draw maximum profits towards the colonial powers.

Can we really talk of “Sack’s odious debt doctrine”?

If we consider that a “doctrine” designates the totality of the opinions expressed by legal experts as the result of their reflection on a given rule or situation; if elaborating a doctrine means “A legal framework, defining it, placing it within the context of the law, defining its limits, its practical application, the social effects and at the same time making a systematic, analytical, critical and comparative examination”, |13| it is justified to consider that Sack has elaborated an odious debt doctrine.

To elaborate his doctrine he referred to an ample quantity of international treaties pertaining to arbitrations on questions of debt repayments concluded between the end of the 18th century and the 1920s; he analysed the way disputes over debt had been treated and the legal, administrative and judicial measures taken; he collected and classified the opinions of numerous authors (in fact, only Europeans and Americans) who had studied the question. He presented his vision of the nature of debts, the obligations of the debtors and the rights of the creditors, the relations between successor States, the way debts and the effects of regime changes were shared, and defined the criteria for odious debts.

The doctrine is open to criticism, has weaknesses, gives priority to creditors and does not consider human rights, but it does have a certain coherence. It must also be said that, although disparaged by influential detractors (the mainstream media, the World Bank and numerous governments), it inspires numerous movements who look to Sack’s work for solutions to debt problems. Sack’s two criteria for determining that a debt is odious and a nation may decide not to pay, are applicable and justified.

Henceforth, we must now go beyond Sack’s doctrine using that which is applicable and rejecting that which is unacceptable and adding elements related to the social and democratic advances that have been made in international law since the Second World War.

What must also be added straight to the odious debt doctrine is the liability of the creditors; they regularly violate the established treaties and other international instruments for the protection of rights. The IMF and the World Bank have continually and deliberately imposed policies on debtor counties that violate many fundamental human rights. The Troika that was established in 2010 to impose brutal austerity policies on Greece dictated laws that contravene several National and International conventions on rights. The creditors are more than just accomplices to illegal and sometimes frankly criminal acts committed by governments. They are in some cases the instigators of the acts.

The experience that has been accumulated since Sack made his studies indicates that several of Sack’s positions may now be updated. A fundamental point that must now be rejected is the continuity of a State’s liabilities, even in the case of a change in the regime. |14| Of course Sack is in favour of recognising an exception – odious debt. But that is insufficient. Another point to reject is Sack’s support for the current international financial system.

Finally, Sack considers that a sovereign State may not unilaterally repudiate debts it has identified as odious without a ruling by a competent international court (See above passage: “The new government must prove and an international tribunal recognise that the following is established:

a) that the purpose which the former government wanted to cover by the debt in question was odious and clearly against the interests of the population of the whole or part of the territory, and

b) that the creditors, at the moment of the issuance of the loan, were aware of its odious purpose.”).Since Sack made this proposal, no international court of the sort has been created. Numerous proposals have been made, but none have been brought to fruition. Experience shows that another way must be chosen: a sovereign State that discovers that it has an odious debt can and should repudiate it unilaterally. The first steps towards this goal would be to suspend payments and to conduct an audit with the participation of the citizens.

A new doctrine of illegitimate, illegal, odious and unsustainable debt needs to be elaborated. Movements such as the CADTM have taken on the task in collaboration with many other associations, and in bringing together a wide variety of competences. The following is a large extract of the position adopted by CADTM in 2008 |15| and which still remains pertinent:

“Several authors have further sought to develop the works of Sack and to adapt this doctrine to the present context. For example, the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) of McGill University in Canada, has proposed this general definition: “Odious debts are those that have been incurred against the interests of the population of a State, without its consent and with full awareness of the creditors.” |16| Jeff King |17| based his analysis on these three criteria (absence of consent, absence of benefit, awareness of creditors), and cumulative calculation, to propose a method to categorise these odious debts.While King’s analysis is interesting in many respects, |18| we argue that it is deficient, since it does not allow for the inclusion of all debts that should be qualified as odious. In fact, according to King, the mere establishment of a government by free elections is enough to disqualify its debts from being categorised as odious. However, history shows, through Hitler in Germany, Marcos in the Philippines or Fujimori in Peru, that “democratically” elected governments can be violent dictatorships and commit crimes against humanity.It is thus necessary to analyse the democratic character of a debtor State beyond its appellation: any loan must be considered odious, if a regime, democratically elected or not, does not respect the fundamental principles of international law such as fundamental human rights, the sovereignty of States, or the absence of the use of force. The creditors, in the case of notorious dictators, cannot plead their innocence and demand to be repaid. In this case, the purpose of the loans is not fundamental for the categorisation of the debt. In fact, financially supporting a criminal regime, even for hospitals and schools, is tantamount to helping the regime’s consolidation and self-preservation. Firstly, some useful investments (roads, hospitals…) can later be used to odious ends, for example, to sustain war efforts. Secondly, the fungibility of funds makes it possible for a government that borrows to serve the population or the State – which, officially, is always the case – to generate other funds for less noble goals.

The nature of regimes aside, the purpose of funds should suffice to qualify debts as odious, that is, whenever these funds are used against the populations’ major interests or when they directly enrich the regime’s cohorts. In this case, the debts become personal debts, and not those of the State which is represented by its people and its representatives. Let’s recall one of the conditions of debt regulation, according to Sack: “the debts of State have to be incurred and the funds that are derived must be used for the needs and in the interests of the State.” Thus, multilateral debts incurred within the framework of structural adjustments fall into the category of odious debts, since the destructive character of these debts has been clearly shown, namely by UN agencies |19|.

In fact, considering the development of international law since the first theorisation of odious debt in 1927, odious debts can be defined as those incurred by governments which violate the major principles of international law such as those included in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the two complementing covenants on civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights of 1966, as well the peremptory norms of international law (jus cogens). This affirmation is confirmed by the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties, whose article 53 allows for the cancellation of acts which conflict with jus cogens |20| and which also accounts for the following norms: prohibition of wars of aggression, prohibition of torture, prohibition to commit crimes against humanity and the right of peoples to self-determination.

This spirit infuses the definition proposed by the Special Rapporteur Mohammed Bedjaoui in the report on the succession of State debts to the 1983 Vienna Convention: “From the point of view of the international community, odious debt is understood as any debt incurred for purposes that contradict contemporary international law, particularly the principles of international law incorporated in the UN Charter.” |21|

Thus, the debts incurred by the apartheid regime in South Africa are odious, since this regime violated the UN Charter, which defines the legal framework of international relations. In a resolution adopted in 1964, the UN had asked its specialised agencies, including the World Bank, to cease financial support of South Africa. In contempt of international law, the World Bank ignored this resolution and continued to lend to the Apartheid regime. |22|

International law also stipulates that debts resulting from colonisation are not transferable to newly independent states, in conformity with Article 16 of the 1978 Vienna Convention that says “A newly independent State is not bound to maintain in force, or to become a party to, any treaty by reason only of the fact that at the date of the succession of States the treaty was in force in respect of the territory to which the succession of States relates”. Article 38 of the 1983 Vienna Convention on the succession of states in respect of States Property, Archives and Debts (not yet applicable) is quite explicit in this respect:

1. “When the successor State is a newly independent State, no State debt of the predecessor State shall pass to the newly independent State, unless an agreement between them provides otherwise in view of the link between the State debt of the predecessor State connected with its activity in the territory to which the succession of States relates and the property, rights and interests which pass to the newly independent State”.

2. “The agreement referred to in paragraph 1 shall not infringe the principle of the permanent sovereignty of every people over its wealth and natural resources, nor shall its implementation endanger the fundamental economic equilibrium of the newly independent State”.

It should be kept in mind that the World Bank is directly involved in some colonial debts since in the 1950s and 1960s it generously loaned money to colonial countries for them to maximise the profits they derived from colonial exploitation. It must also be noted that the debts granted by the World Bank to the Belgian, French and English authorities within their colonial policies were later transferred to the newly independent states without their consent. |23|

Moreover it did not comply with a 1965 UN resolution demanding that it stop its support to Portugal as long as this country maintains its colonial policy.

We must also define as odious all debts incurred in order to pay back odious debts. The New Economic Foundation |24| rightly considers that loans contracted in order to pay back odious loans are similar to a laundering operation. Auditing debts will determine which loans are legitimate.

While there are dissensions on the definition of odious debts, the legal debate takes nothing away from its relevance and cogency. On the contrary, such debate reflects just what is at stake for both the creditors and the debtors and is simply the transfer of conflicting interests onto a legal level. Several cases have shown that the notion of odious debt is a legally valid argument not to pay debts.”

The list of debt abolitions or repudiations that evoke, in one way or another, the argument of their illegal, illegitimate or odious character is long.

Without claiming to be exhaustive we may nevertheless mention |25|: the three waves of debt repudiations by the United States in the 1830s, 1860s and 1870s; the Mexican debt repudiations in 1861,1867,1883 and in the 1910s; the repudiation by Peru of the debt reclaimed by the Parisian bankers ’Dreyfus’; the 1898 repudiation by Cuba of the debt reclaimed by Spain; the repudiation by the British of the debt reclaimed on the Boers after the conquest of the Boer Republics in 1899-1900; the repudiation by the Bolsheviks in 1918 of the debt left by the Tsars; the repudiation of Germany’s debts on Poland and its African colonies in 1919; the abolition of the debt of the part of Poland that was colonised by the Tsarist Empire; the abolition, by the Bolsheviks in 1920, of the debt of the three Baltic States and of Persia; the repudiation by Costa Rica in 1922-23 of the debt reclaimed by The Royal Bank of Canada; the large debt repudiations made by Brazil and Mexico in 1942-43; the Chinese debt repudiations in 1949-52; the repudiation by Indonesia of the debt reclaimed by the Netherlands in 1956; the repudiations by Cuba in 1959-60; the repudiation of the colonial debt by Algeria in 1962; the three Baltic Republics’ repudiation of the debts reclaimed, this time by the other former members of the USSR, in 1991; the abolition of Namibia’s debt, by Nelson Mandela’s South African government in 1994; the abolition of Timor-Leste’s colonial debt in 1999-2000; the abolition of 80% of Iraq’s debt in 2004; Paraguay’s repudiation of debts reclaimed by Swiss banks in 2005 |26|; Norway relaxing its claims on five countries (Ecuador, Peru, Sierra Leone, Egypt and Jamaica) calling for repayment of debts concerning the production and delivery of fishing boats in 2006; |27| the abolition, in 2009, of the part of the Ecuadorian debt that had been identified as non-legitimate by the 2007-2008 debt audit Commission.

Bibliography of other important works of Alexander Nahum Sack as published by himself in 1927:

Agricultural Credit Bank, 1883-1910, economic, statistical et financial research, Moscow, 1911, (in Russian).

Notions on Financial Law and the Science of Finance, Yaroslavl, 1913, 42 p. (in Russian).

The Role of Legislative Bodies in the Control of Russian and Foreign State Banks, Yaroslavl, 1913, 36 p. (in Russian).

The Germans and German Capital in Russian Industry, St Petersburg, 1913, 67 p. (in Russian).

The Central Lending Banks and Banking Associations, St Petersburg, 1914, 171 p. (in Russian).

Financing Agricultural Reform, Petrograd, 1917, 57 p. (in Russian).

Russian and Foreign Railway Bond Issue Rights Petrograd, 1917, 47 p. (in Russian).

The Circulation of Money in Russia, Petrograd, 1918, 123 p. (in Russian).

The Bankrupt State, Petrograd, 1918, 128 p. (in Russian).

The Issue of Public Debt in the Case of State Dislocation, Berlin, 1923 (The works of Russian researchers abroad, t. III), 158 p. (in Russian).

The Problem of Money Reform in the Baltic States Kiel, 1924,13 p.(In German)

Fixing the Value of Money, Riga, 1925, 50 p.

The Debt Engagement of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Kiel, 1926, 22 p.”(In German)

All Russian titles translated from French form by CADTM

Acknowledgements: The author thanks: Ilias Bantekas, Nathan Legrand, Benjamin Lemoine, Damien Millet, Brigitte Ponet, Claude Quémar and Patrick Saurin for their help and suggestions. 

Translated by Snake Arbusto, Vicki Briault Manus and Mike Krolikowski.

Footnotes

|1Les effets des transformations des États sur leurs dettes publiques et autres obligations financières : traité juridique et financier, Recueil Sirey, Paris, 1927. See : http://cadtm.org/IMG/pdf/Alexander_Sack_DETTE_ODIEUSE.pdf

|2| Sarah Ludington, G. Mitu Gulati, Alfred L. Brophy, ’Applied Legal History: Demystifying the Doctrine of Odious Debts’, 2009, http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5511&context=faculty_scholarship

|3|  Eric Toussaint, ’What other countries can learn from Costa Rica’s debt repudiation’, published on 1 November 2016, http://www.cadtm.org/What-other-countries-can-learn

|4| Her text is a part of an interesting collective work entitled How to Challenge Illegitimate Debt Theory and Legal Case Studies edited by Max Mader and André Rothenbühler for Aktion Finanzplatz Schweiz (AFP). It is available here: https://asso-sherpa.org/sherpa-content/docs/programmes/FFID/GT/Debt.pdf

|5| Another quote from Sack clearly confirms that he was opposed to the despotic nature of a regime being a condition sine qua non to identify an odious debt: “Applying other conditions than those we have established (p. 6-7) would, through arbitrary, differing and contradictory judgements, bring about the paralysis of the whole international public credit system and so (if such judgements were to have real weight on questions of recognising or of not recognising debts as State debts) would deprive the World of the advantages of public credits.” (p. 11).

|6| What does Sack mean by “a non-regular government”? Answer: A government that does not exercise control over the whole territory, such as a rebel coalition that attempts to overthrow the existing regular government. The emblematic example are the Southern US States (the Confederate States) that rebelled against the United States, which was a regular government. It therefore follows that the debts incurred by the Southern States were personal debts of the Southern insurgents, not debts that the United States should assume. If the Confederates had won the 1861-1865 Civil War they would have become the new regular government in place of the United States.

|7| On the repudiation of the Southern States’ debts, see: Eric Toussaint, ’Three Waves of Public-Debt Repudiations in the USA during the 19th Century’, published on 7 November 2016, http://www.cadtm.org/Three-Waves-of-Public-Debt

|8| IMF, Michael Kremer and Seema Jayachandran, “Odious Debt” Finance & Development, June 2002, Washington DC, www.imf.org/external/np/res/…

|9| Of course, it is perfectly legitimate that Michael Kremer and Seema Jayachandran add any new conditions that they may consider necessary. We regularly see consent obtained by the manipulation of public opinion or by the fanaticism of a majority of the population.

|10| See Eric Toussaint, ’Three Waves of Public-Debt Repudiations in the USA during the 19th Century’, published on 7 November 2016, http://www.cadtm.org/Three-Waves-of-Public-Debt

|11| Eric Toussaint, ’The USA’s repudiation of the debt demanded by Spain from Cuba in 1898: What about Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, etc.?’, published on 8 September 2016, http://www.cadtm.org/The-USA-s-repudiation-of-the-debt

|12| Source: Treaty Series, no. 4, 1919, p. 26. quoted by Sack, p. 162.

|13| Serge Braudo, Dictionnaire du droit privéhttp://www.dictionnaire-juridique.com/definition/doctrine.php (in French)

|14| See Odette Lienau, Rethinking Sovereign Debt: Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance, Harvard, 2014

|15| This CADTM statement has been translated by Judith Abdel Gadir, Elisabeth Anne, Christine Pagnoulle and Diren Valayden.

|16| Khalfan et al. “Advancing the Odious Debt Doctrine”, 2002, quoted in Global Economic Justice Report, Toronto, July 2003

|17| Jeff King, “Odious Debt: The Terms of Debate”

|18| Namely, King proposes the undertaking of audits to determine the absence or not of benefits.

|19| See Eric Toussaint, Your Money or Your Life. The Tyranny of Global Finance, Haymarket in Chicago (2005), VAK in Mumbai (2006).

|20| Article 53 states: “A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law. For the purposes of the present Convention, a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character.”

|21| Mohammed Bedjaoui, “Ninth report on succession on States on matters other than treaties” A/CN.4/301et Add.l, p. 73.

|22| See Eric Toussaint, The World Bank: A Critical Primer. London: Pluto Press 2007.

|23| See Eric Toussaint, op. cit.

|24| See the report by the New Economics Foundation, “Odious Lending: Debt Relief as if Moral Mattered”, p. 2: “The result is a vicious circle of debt in which new loans have to be incurred by successive governments to service the odious ones, effectively ‘laundering’ the original loans. This defensive lending can give a legitimate cloak to debts that were originally the result of odious lending”. Available at www.jubileeresearch.org/news/Odiouslendingfinal.pdf

|25| Some of these examples are listed by Jeff King in The Doctrine of Odious Debt in International Law. A Restatement, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

|26| Hugo Ruiz Diaz Balbuena, ’La décision souveraine de déclarer la nullité de la dette ou la décision de non paiement de la dette : un droit de l’État (The decision to declare a debt null and void or default on its payment is a State’s sovereign right)’, 7 July 2008, http://www.cadtm.org/La-decision-souveraine-de-declarer (in French)

|27| CADTM – ’CADTM applauds Norway’s initiative concerning the cancellation of odious debt and calls on all creditor countries to go even further’, published on 10 October 2006 , http://www.cadtm.org/CADTM-applauds-Norway-s-initiative

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy(2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc. See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. Since the 4th April 2015 he is the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt.

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Government forces are preparing to take control of a key region near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The Syrian army and its allies are going to launch a fresh military operation to force Jaish al-Islam militant group to surrender their strongholds in the region and to withdraw to Idlib.

Douma is Jaish al-Islam’s main stronghold in the area. It will likely become one of the targets of the operation.

According to pro-militant sources:

  • Jaish al-Islam and its allies have about 10,000 fighters;
  • 435,000 civilians live in the region.

The operation will be a major blow to the so-called “moderate opposition” and to allow to secure the area of Damascus.

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As President Barack Obama vows that the United States will take “action” in response to the allegations that Russia interfered with the November election, the U.S. army has started to bring tanks back to a Cold War site in the Netherlands as a show of its “commitment to deterrence in Europe.”

The U.S. and Dutch military reopened the Eygelshoven site on Thursday. It will contain“strategically prepositioned critical war stock” including M1 Abrams Tanks and M109 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers.

“Three years ago, the last American tank left Europe; we all wanted Russia to be our partner,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, head of U.S. Army Europe. “My country is bringing tanks back,” and “[w]e are signaling our commitment and demonstrating the ability to prepare,” he said.

“That is what Eygelshoven represents. This is the manifestation of 28 nations committed to the security of each other,” he said.

Added Dutch Gen. Tom Middendorp, chief defense staff of the Royal Netherlands Army: “We want to make sure we are sending a clear signal to Russia that we will not accept any violation of NATO’s territorial integrity.”

U.S. Congress earlier this month passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which, as the Wall Street Journal noted, “approved a $3.4 billion spending plan to boost European defenses including reopening or creating five equipment-storage sites in the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, and two locations in Germany.”

NBC News adds:

In September, the U.S. Army began to assemble additional so called Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) for permanent storage in Europe. The latest shipment includes ammunition.

The additional combat equipment will give the Army the option for another heavy armored brigade. Presently, it has only two light brigades in Europe: 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

Earlier in the year the U.S. had already begun taking steps to confront what the Pentagon described as “an aggressive Russia,” and Reuters wrote in October that NATO was prepping for its “biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War.”

But the restocking of tanks and other equipment at the Dutch site comes as U.S. intelligence officials and politicians have accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network and interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections—an accusation repeated by corporate media.

Obama said in an interview with NPR that aired Friday, “I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action. And we will—at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.”

Agencies were still conducting “a whole range of assessments,” and so he couldn’t speak to motivations for the alleged hacks. However, Obama said, they “create[d] more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign.”

As The Intercept‘s Sam Biddle wrote this week:

the refrain of Russian attribution has been repeated so regularly and so emphatically that it’s become easy to forget that no one has ever truly proven the claim. There is strong evidence indicating that Democratic email accounts were breached via phishing messages, and that specific malware was spread across DNC computers. There’s even evidence that the attackers are the same group that’s been spotted attacking other targets in the past. But again: No one has actually proven that group is the Russian government (or works for it).

President-elect Donald Trump, for his part, has dismissed the accusations and called them “ridiculous,” and the Kremlin has denounced them as “ludicrous nonsense.”

According to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University, “We’re in the most dangerous confrontation with Russia since the Cuban missile crisis. It needs to be discussed.”

Speaking to Democracy Now! on Thursday, Cohen said that “at the moment, it can’t be discussed because of these charges that everybody is a client of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin who disagrees with the mainstream opinion. And it’s coming from the Senate. It’s coming from The New York Times.”

“[O]ne motive is to keep Trump from going to the White House. Another is to delegitimize him before he gets there. But the main motive—and you can hear it clearly—is Trump has said he wants cooperation with Russia, and the war party here that’s against that is determined to stop it,” he said.

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Virtually every current headline unequivocally shows how US Empire and its Ministry of Propaganda are lying to the American people. Those in power have been so exposed by alt-media in 2016 that they are growing more desperate by the day. Right now their biggest lie is blaming Putin and Russia for being behind everything gone wrong in the world according to the Obama-Clinton-Bush-CIA-Rothschild crime cabal.

The latest claims assert that Putin’s hackers overturned the presidential election results in favor of Donald Trump and this whopper is currently being pushed as the flimsiest, last gasp excuse to spearhead its hollow “fake news” crusade in order to both outlaw the truth and derail Trump’s January 20th inauguration.

Longtime State Department veteran psychiatrist Steve Pieczenik, CIA/NSA whistleblower William Binney, CIA whistleblower Ray McGovern and former UK ambassador Craig Murray have all stated that there is zero evidence showing that the Russians “hacked” emails or interfered with the election outcome in any way.

Credible former CIA officers emphatically state that the emails were leaked, not hacked, and that Putin had nothing to do with it. The 17 US intelligence agencies remain conflicted with the verdict still out, unable to even arrive at a consensus, despite the FBI’s latest cave-in to pressures to feebly present a belated united front against Russia.

Flip flopper Comey’s at it again. Up until a day or so ago, the FBI maintained that there was not enough evidence to conclude the Russians hacked into DNC records or emails. The Clintons, Obama and their “intelligence” minions are fast growing irrelevant and impotent as the yearend days count down. What’s perfectly clear is the CIA/MSM liars are acting on orders from the Clinton et al cartel deceitfully politicizing this meme because they cannot accept the fact that Hillary lost her “anointed” election. The feds’ unending war agenda may soon be collapsing.

Before rushing to lynch mob judgment demonizing Putin once again, an important reminder worth noting is the historic track record of the Clintons, Obama, the Bushes and the CIA is that they lie all the time, both pathologically and professionally as full blown certifiable psychopaths.

They all played a major part in creating and continuing to back the terrorists al Qaeda, al Nusra and ISIS in the Middle East and beyond. With perhaps the exception of the Saul Alinsky-Bill Ayers, “terrorist-inspired” community organizer and then Illinois state senator Obama, it’s worth mentioning that they all bear guilt in the death of 3000 American citizens on 9/11 and then shamelessly promoting the boldface lie that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s and direct links to terrorists.

But let’s not leave out Barrack who promised to be the most open and transparent president in US history and then proceeded to be the most secretive, least transparent, and perhaps most incompetent president in US history.

But then given the mission to destroy America from within by the ruling elite that groomed and launched his meteoric rise, his puppet masters no doubt are very pleased with his record. And as far as the Central Intelligence Agency goes, as the elite’s private mercenary army, from its very get-go the CIA’s very purpose and everyday business have always been made of lies and propaganda.

Instead of blindly blaming the Russians, far more credible sources have posited that at least one DNC insider – Seth Rich – leaked documents and then likely paid for it with his murdered life. Additionally if you believe Steve Piecnezik, intelligence operatives launched a soft anti-Clinton counter-coup handing over the thousands of Clinton-Podesta emails to WikiLeaks. And now we’re even learning that US Homeland Security has been trying to hack into the Georgia state election apparatus at least ten times. So all these alleged hacks and leaks seem to surfacing internally from sources within the United States, mostly from operatives working either directly inside the government or political apparatchik.

Another relevant point worth raising is the indisputable fact that the US government is the most notoriously guilty entity in the world for constantly meddling and interfering in other sovereign nations’ internal elections and affairs, engaging in crime after crime assassinating foreign leaders, and executing dozens of coups overthrowing sovereign governments.

And let’s face it, all the major players on the global stage are guilty of spying on one another, particularly in cyber-espionage, again with the US the main culprit. So this whole notion of using the blame game to falsely accuse other countries of the very same hideous aggressions that Washington is most guilty perpetrating for well over a century is extremely hypocritical in the least and downright diabolical to the max. Yet for centuries now this kind of duplicity and hubris is exactly how American exceptionalism has criminally operated around the globe with total impunity.

The “blame the Russian” game is an old cold war propaganda tactic from way back. History just keeps repeating itself because the powers-that-shouldn’t-be exploit and count on Americans having a short attention span. Those who witnessed or pay attention to history can recall the cold war era of the early 1950’s and the Red Scare of McCarthyism when many people’s lives were ruined by dishonestly branding them as so called communists and communist sympathizers. Deep state USA is at it once again, unjustly singling out and punishing those who speak the truth online by again falsely accusing them of being agents of Russian propaganda. Blacklisting alt-media sites that legitimately report accurate accounts of news events and world developments by again falsely accusing them as “fake news” sources when the corporate media liars themselves are infamously guilty of fake news propaganda is just more of the same bogus modus operandi that the government and mainstream media have been redeploying indefinitely for decades.

Project Mockingbird flourished throughout the cold war from the 1950’s right into the 1970’s and beyond when the CIA influenced if not controlled all the biggest news outlets (25 newspapers and wire agencies) using them to spread Washington’s own cold war propaganda. This sinister collusion between the feds and the press resulted in the imperialistic division of two Asian ethnicities – the Koreans and Vietnamese people each split into two enemy nations fighting two costly wars killing up to over 7 million Asians (not to mention 95,000 American soldiers). And when the Senate Church Committee finally exposed Mockingbird, in 1976 then CIA director George Bush senior was forced to proclaim on paper at least its “official” end. But subsequent planting of disinformation in the foreign press that by design would then spread to the US was yet another covert means by which the deceitful CIA continued its propaganda control over both US and foreign news markets.

This unholy nexus has also persisted right up till today through such common ties as the all-powerful Council on Foreign Relations. For many decades the CFR strategically courts and recruits prominent members from mainstream media as well as the entertainment industry for the exact same PR purpose of using them to promote deep state propaganda and collude in corrupt cover-ups to willfully deceive the American public. Then in recent years the corporatized merging of government and mass media utilizing US military, CIA and FBI liaisons in Hollywood has only consolidated power and media control into fewer and fewer hands, with 6 oligarchs in control of the 6 largest mega media giants controlling the outflow of over 90% of today’s news. Virtually every TV show and film out of Hollywood now is pure deep state propaganda serving for a full century as the best recruitment venue for brainwashing the next generation of GI’s dying on foreign soil battlefields. Hence, what’s emerged today is a fascist government cabal maintaining illegitimate control and authority through false propaganda delivered 24/7 by deep state surrogate the mainstream media.

But during this US presidential election year, largely due to WikiLeaks, social media and alternative and independent news, citizens of the world have discovered how corrosively evil in its criminality this existing crime cabal is, personified by the Clintons, Obama and their minions in Washington, Wall Street and the corporate media. Over the last couple of months the Clinton-Podesta connection has been directly tied to a global child sex trafficking ring operating from the “life insurance” laptop of Hillary’s closest, 20-year aide-Saudi operative Huma Abedin’s husband, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner. But the pedophilia network has more recently expanded to include an infamous block of sinister pizza parlors and front offices in upscale Northwest Washington operating eerily close to the White House (perhaps even closer through DC’s network of underground tunnels). Enter #Pizzagate.

And through thousands of internet sleuths working together online 24/7, the crumbling, gaping cracks of this crime cabal wall have been exposed like never before, threatening to bring down the most powerful Luciferian worshipping pedophiles at the top of this planet’s demonic food chain. And this raw naked exposure of the diabolical matrix has the guilty party – the Obamas, Bushes and Clintons panicking and resorting to extreme desperate measures to hide and conceal the filthy truth of who and what they are.

Hence, in this age of deception, we are now living in a new era of McCarthyism frantically unleashed to justify their latest attack campaign on steroids to censor and ban all blacklisted alternative media news sites that provide much needed counterbalancing truth to the official false narrative lies. The aim here is to eliminate and silence all truth tellers so that the evildoers – as naked and exposed as they already are, can attempt to hold onto their waning power, slipping fast now from their control.

By deep state egregiously accusing alt-news of being “agents of Russian propaganda,” it intends to shut down America’s First Amendment right to a free press – the alternative news, which regularly exposes NSM and gov.corps’ propaganda lies. The totalitarian agenda now being rushed through prior to Trump becoming president has already passed “anti-Russian propaganda” bills in both chambers of Congress aimed at banning over 200 targeted alt-news sites on their bogus blacklists. Additionally, the EU has threatened further tyrannical censorship if co-opted internet ponds Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Reddit don’t eliminate the so called “fake news” from its social media and search engines. In effect, a final power grab is being played out right now attempting to usurp, control and silence the last voice of honest and accurate news accounting of what goes on in this world. But the crime cabal will fail as the world knows too much already.

Since 9/11 those who question authority refusing to believe the deep state lies have been customarily discarded as “conspiracy nuts.” Though for decades this strategy was quite effective, it’s now wearing thin as more people every day are beginning to realize the truth about the previously concealed criminality endlessly committed by DC puppets and their masters. As a result, deep state’s agenda has been to increasingly criminalize dissidents as potential homegrown terrorists and radicalized enemies of the state. What we’re currently witnessing is the systematic targeting of both dissenting individuals and alternative news organizations as “dangerously” unwanted truth tellers posing the single largest threat to the crime cabal’s continued power and control.

Since the engineered post-election riots have fizzled, Stein’s recount failed and stealing the presidency through pro-Hillary death threats against Trump electoral voters have one by one fallen short of overturning the election, silencing alt-news and igniting a war against Russia are their last, “best shot” ploys that would manufacture the needed national crisis to prevent Trump from assuming office next month. Who knows? In the few days prior to January 20th, a false flag perpetrated by Washington neo-crazies as a last gasp effort to blame Russia “justifying” war against the nuclear power may still be up their pathetic evil sleeve. That’s how desperate these despots are, terrified their pedo-crimes will soon be their ruin.

In the meantime, yet another draconian law HR 4919 was just passed in the House. Using the benignly logical rationale of tracking lost victims suffering from autism or dementia, deep state is now pushing for RFID chips to be implanted in all people diagnosed with autism and dementia. Similar past measures have authorized the government to round up the homeless or those afflicted with respiratory ailments during the Ebola scare. Operating under the auspices of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in mid-August the CDC proposed to grant itself unlimited unconstitutional power to round up and detain citizens en masse without reason or due process, kind of like the medical bookend to the 2013 FDAA that also obliterates citizens’ legal rights and civil liberties. The feds are becoming increasingly over-the- top in their totalitarian oppression, knowing that for good reason more people are opposing mandatory vaccinations for both children and adults as well as proposed mandatory microchips. Recall that a couple years ago NBC was predicting that next year every American would be microchipped.

Like the regretful German pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous quote decrying each group targeted and taken away by the Nazis without his speaking out, after the communists, socialists, trade unionists and the Jews, by the time they came for him it was too late. How far will the government go with its growing hit list of expendable throwaways? What’s to stop the deep state from making microchips mandatory for anyone diagnosed with a mental disorder? Or the entire world population for that matter?

The insane DSM-5 has recently expanded the number of mental illnesses into absurdity, making sure to include practically anyone and everyone.  The Diagnostic Statistical Manual has become the official tool and vehicle by which the government is moving to criminalize abnormality. This slippery slope may soon include every human on the planet.

As a former diagnostic clinician, I can tell you that the criteria by which people can be diagnosed with a dangerous label from a vast array is extremely arbitrary and subjective. There’s nothing scientific or foolproof about it. Mislabeling citizens who may pose “trouble or a threat” to the authoritarian state is wide open for overreaching, widespread abuse as the convenient false pretense for microchipping and controlling a growing segment of “undesirables” within the population.

Branding any individual who does not trust authority figures with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” or anyone who appears “overly” health conscious and selective about what they eat as “suffering” from orthorexia nervosa could simply be deep state’s way of branding us all with certifiable labels. Deep state has co-opted the psychiatric profession which is largely owned and controlled by Big Pharma, using its Diagnostic Statistical Manual’s unlimited mental disorders as yet another weapon of mass destruction playbook for diabolical population control purposes.

In recent years MSM has clearly become Washington’s ministry of propaganda. And adding insult to injury, Congress is busily passing bills designed to outlaw the real truth, so as to empower its propaganda ministry to become its “truth” ministry.

We are living the Orwellian nightmare come true, as “useless eating” victims of a fascist totalitarian oligarchic police state bent on perpetrating democide as well as human genocide as part of its demonic eugenics plan to drastically reduce the world pop. from 7.4 billion to anywhere from a half to one billion depending on which globalist you listen to. We are the most invasively surveilled and controlled population in human history by a centralized tyrannical government controlling a centralized financial debtor-slave system. Deep state and corporate media together engage in covert concealment of secret, heinously deplorable brutality protecting the elite’s systemic criminality perpetrated we now know on a massive colossal scale.

A century ago the ruling elite known as the internationalists envisioned a one world government. Now that same ruling elite are called globalists and they’re rushing to suppress the truth on their way to bringing on the perfect storm that will usher in the violent tyranny of their global governance.

Outside of technology that enables increasing power and control, little has otherwise changed over the course of the last century. That said, never before have more citizens of the world become aware of the treasonous crimes committed by those psychopaths in power.

Before closing a final reminder warrants stating. Regardless of the figurehead occupying the White House, the same power elite is still holding power over this earth. And the battle for truth, justice and our very lives will continue after January 20th. The doomsday clock that’s been ticking under the Bush-Clinton-Obama cabal is only ticking shorter now and our struggle is hardly over.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field with abused youth and adolescents for more than a quarter century. In recent years he has focused on his writing, becoming an alternative media journalist. His blog site is at http://empireexposed.blogspot.co.id/

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US Deaths from Synthetic Opioids Surge by 72 Percent

December 19th, 2016 by Kate Randall

Afghanistan is the main supplier of opioids and heroin to the US, according to UN sources, Afghanistan produces approximately  90 percent of the World’s supply of opium destined to the illegal heroin and opioid markets.

It’s a multibillion dollar industry. A large share of the opium is exported in military planes out of Afghanistan.

Following an opium eradication program implemented by the Afghan (Taliban) government in 2000 with the support of the United Nations, the production of opium had collapsed by more than 90% (less than 200 tons).

It regained its historical levels following the entry of US and allied forces in October 2001. The production of opium has increased almost thirty fold since the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO forces in October 2001. 

The illegal opium trade out of Afghanistan  is “protected’. The deaths from synthetic opioids and heroin documented in this article are directly related to the surge in opium production in Afghanistan in the course of the last fifteen years.  

Michel Chossudovsky, December 19 2016

*       *       *

The number of overdose deaths in the US from synthetic opioids surged 72 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to new data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The dramatic one-year rise follows a tripling of overdose deaths from opioids from 1999 to 2014, as tracked by the CDC.

The news follows CDC research released earlier this month showing that heroin overdose deaths in the US have reached epidemic proportions, with opioid overdose deaths rising 5,000 since 2014, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history.

The reality of the opioid overdose crisis stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s rosy depiction of life in America as he prepares to leave office. At his last press conference of the year on Friday, he pointed to the low official unemployment rate, a modest increase in wages and, above all, a tripling of the stock market to claim that he leaves a legacy of economic “success.” He avoided any mention of the social crisis wracking the country, including declining life expectancy for large sections of the working class, rising suicides, and surging substance abuse and death from opioid overdoses.

Obama’s words provide cold comfort to the tens of thousands of families losing loved ones to the opioid epidemic, even as funding for treatment programs is cut. Despite the CDC’s stress in its report on the “urgent need for a multifaceted, collaborative public health” response to the opioid epidemic, there is no coordinated government effort to stem the tide of opioid abuse and overdose deaths.

According to the CDC’s latest report, a majority of US states reported significant increases in overdose deaths due to heroin and prescription painkiller abuse last year. In 2015 alone, drug overdoses killed 52,000 people, with nearly 66 percent of these deaths resulting from abuse of prescription or illegal opioids.

The CDC data shows that two synthetic opioids, fentanyl and tramadol, are largely responsible for the nationwide increase in drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a potent opioid pain medication estimated to be at least 50 to 100 times as strong as morphine. Overdoses from tramadol often involve other drugs, including alcohol.

Last year, 9,580 died from overdoses of synthetic opioids other than methadone, while painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicotin had a 4 percent increase, resulting in 17,536 overdose deaths.

Over the last six years, deaths form heroin overdoses alone have quadrupled. For the first time ever, more people died from heroin overdoses last year, 12,989, than were killed by gun violence, 12,979.

Males saw a staggering 90.9 percent increase in synthetic opioid deaths from 2014 to 2015, with younger men the hardest hit. Men ages 15-24 saw a 91.7 percent increase; ages 25-34, a 94.1 percent increase; ages 35-44, an 80.6 percent increase.

Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids among women rose by 46.2 percent in 2015, with women ages 15-24 seeing the largest one-year rise in deaths–116.7 percent–of any age or gender group.

The CDC’s data shows blacks of all ages (non-Hispanic) with the largest one-year increase, 95 percent; followed by whites (non-Hispanic), 75 percent; and Hispanics, 50 percent.

Seven years into the so-called economic recovery, cities and towns across the country are gripped by an opioid and heroin epidemic that sees no signs of ebbing. Families seem helpless to deal with their members’ addictions, with their only apparent ally the drug naloxone (brand name Narcan), which reverses the effects of opioids within minutes. The drug is now widely available to the public in many states.

The Northeast region saw the biggest hike in synthetic opioid overdose deaths, rising by 107 percent in 2015 over 2014 figures. Three Northeast states registered overdose death increases in excess of 100 percent in one year: New York (135.7 percent), Connecticut (125.9 percent), and Massachusetts (108.7 percent). New Hampshire followed close behind (94.4 percent), as did Maine (90.4 percent).

In the face of the Massachusetts opioid crisis, Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 slashes $1.929 million from the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, affecting treatment programs across the state.

In Connecticut, another hard-hit New England state, there are 400 people on the waiting list for the substance abuse treatment and detox programs paid for by the state’s judicial branch on any given day, according to the CT Mirror. To cut $4 million from the judicial branch’s budget, the state has cut substance abuse treatment beds in Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New London, Sharon and Waterbury.

The Midwest region saw the next biggest one-year increase, at 95 percent. Illinois saw a 120 percent increase, while Ohio had a 107.3 percent rise.

Among the 28 states meeting inclusion criteria for state-level analysis by the CDC, the largest absolute change in deaths from synthetic opioids other than methadone occurred in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia. States seeing the largest absolute rate changes for heroin deaths were Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and West Virginia.

Under conditions where budget cuts will only deepen under a Trump administration, little hope is offered to the tens of millions of people across the country facing a future of austerity and increased health problems, including addiction.

While one in seven Americans will become addicted to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime, according to a recent report from the US surgeon general, only 10 percent of those affected will ever receive help in treating their dependency.

Such is the true social legacy of Obama’s pro-corporate and militaristic policies, rooted in the defense of the capitalist profit system.

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Of potential significance to the US Election process, Israeli news Ynet reports in an article entitled “Israeli Mossad Chief And Security Delegation Meet With Trump Team” that the Director of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, (image left) “clandestinely visited the United States to meet with President-elect Donald Trump’s staff and brief them on pressing security matters including the Iranian nuclear deal, the Syrian civil war, terror threats and the Palestinian issue.”

Of significance, this was an initiative of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Obama administration was not consulted or informed:

The security delegation was organized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was led by National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel. The Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was also present during meetings.

….

Additionally, Israeli officials have also reached out to the President-elect to ask him to come out against President Obama and veto a Palestinian bid submitted to the Security Council. 

The proposal is expected to be up for a vote before Obama leaves office on January 20. The proposal seeks to label settlements as illegal and implicitly calls on the international community to boycott Israel.

The story was also picked up by the Times of Israel.

There is no corroborating evidence or reports in the US media regarding this “secret” Mossad mission, the timing of which coincides with the media campaign (backed by US intelligence) against Donald Trump in relation to Moscow’s alleged interference in the US elections.

Needless to say, the US authorities would have been informed of the entry to the US of Yaakov Nigel and Yossi Cohen.

It is worth noting that Donald Trump has come out in favor of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The report does not mention whether the Mossad delegation met directly with Donald Trump.

Michel Chossudovsky contributed to this report.

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The 538 members of the US Electoral College are casting their votes Monday in 50 state capitals. All indications are that, with a handful of exceptions, the Electoral College vote will follow the results of the voting on November 8, giving Republican Donald Trump 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232.

In the nearly six weeks since the election, Trump has announced his nominations for nearly all major cabinet and executive positions. His government will be the most right-wing in the history of the country, comprised of billionaires, corporate executives, generals and individuals determined to dismantle bedrock social programs and eliminate all regulations and restraints on corporate profit.

The fact that the Electoral College vote is even a subject of discussion and controversy is a measure of the palpably undemocratic character of the election. For the second time in less than two decades, the candidate with the most electors lost the popular vote. The scale of Trump’s popular vote defeat, nearly three million ballots, is historically unprecedented for a president-elect.

Following the election, sharp divisions within the political establishment and the state have erupted to the surface, intensifying over the past two weeks. Sections of the Democratic Party have backed a campaign appealing to individual electors not to cast their ballot for Trump, or insist that they receive a report from US intelligence agencies on alleged Russian interference in the election before the Electoral College vote is held.

What is remarkable about this campaign is that it is not based on Trump’s decisive defeat in the popular vote, nor on his White House and cabinet appointments. The Democrats and their media allies such as the New York Times are not making an issue of Trump’s installation of Stephen Bannon, CEO of the fascistic Breitbart.com, as his top White House aide, or his plans to round up millions of undocumented workers, destroy Medicaid and Medicare, and move toward the privatization of Social Security.

The campaign being carried out by Democratic politicians and most of the corporate-controlled media is focused solely on unsubstantiated charges of Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails and Trump’s refusal to acknowledge or condemn it. The Democratic Party is continuing its election campaign strategy of attacking the fascistic billionaire Trump from the right, on the basis of a warmongering barrage against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the charge that Trump is his political stooge.

In opposing Trump, the Democrats are appealing not to working people, but to the military and the intelligence agencies.

In appearances on national television Sunday morning, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, Democratic Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, and Democratic elector Clay Pell, grandson of a US senator, all urged that the electors meeting on Monday refuse to cast ballots until they receive a detailed briefing from US intelligence agencies about the alleged Russian interference in the election.

Both Podesta and the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, refused point-blank to respond to the question of whether the voting on Election Day, November 8, constituted “a free and fair election.” Podesta said “it was distorted by the Russian intervention.” Brazile declared, “We were attacked by a foreign adversary,” adding that the outcome “was tainted by this intrusion.”

Podesta, in his first appearance on a Sunday television interview program since the election, cited the op-ed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published the same day, describing Trump as “a Russian poodle.” “I never thought I would see a dispute between America’s intelligence community and a murderous foreign dictator in which an American leader sided with a dictator,” Kristof wrote.

Podesta went even further than Kristof, suggesting that “it’s very much unknown whether there was collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He declared, “I think really not what Mr. Trump knew, but what did Trump Inc. know and when did they know it, were they in touch with the Russians? I think those are still open questions.”

This is an appeal of a neo-McCarthyite character, in which capitalist Russia is substituted for the Soviet Union in a campaign by one of the two major capitalist parties against its rivals based on the accusation that they are Russian agents.

Short of actually preventing Trump’s entry into the White House, the anti-Russian campaign by the intelligence agencies and the Democrats has as its goal making it more difficult for Trump to shift away from the current orientation of US foreign policy, which is toward an intensified confrontation with Russia.

As the World Socialist Web Site has emphasized, the conflict over alleged Russian hacking reveals the essential content of the US presidential election campaign, as far as the US ruling elite and its military-intelligence apparatus were concerned. In her campaign against Trump, Clinton combined an appeal to privileged sections of the upper-middle class on the basis of identity politics with an attack on Trump as someone who would be “soft” on Russia and insufficiently aggressive in defending the interests of US imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

All the scandalmongering and mutual accusations of criminality and corruption concealed the real issue in the election: the direction of US foreign policy in the wake of the debacles suffered by the Obama administration in Syria and Iraq.

Clinton advocated essentially a continuation of the policies of Obama, escalating tensions with Russia in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, while Trump called for a different approach, with an eye to targeting China and other trade rivals of American banks and corporations. Significantly, in a report from Trump Tower Sunday, ABC correspondent Tom Llamas said that he had been told by a senior Trump adviser that China, not Russia, was “the most important foreign policy assignment for President-elect Trump.”

More generally, there is a sense of foreboding within the US national-security establishment. Senator John McCain, in an appearance on CNN, cited the intervention of Russia in Syria as “a sign of a possible unraveling of the world order that was established after World War II,” in other words, an end of the dominant position of the United States.

No section of the US ruling elite will accept such an outcome peacefully. The incoming Trump administration and its critics, both Democratic and Republican, are in conflict over tactics and methods, but not over the fundamental goal. US imperialism will resort increasingly to military violence, up to and including world war, to defend its global position against all challenges, both from foreign rivals and the working class.

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On Monday, electors from each state meet to choose the next president and vice president. They alone decide. Voters have no say.

Virtually always they pick the ticket winning their state’s popular vote. Never in US history did more than one elector defect.

In most, not all states, they can legally go the other way, each elector choosing his or her preferred candidate. No constitutional or US statute law prevents it.

Trump won 306 electoral votes to Hillary’s 232, a decisive margin, what should assure his election as America’s next president – whether this year in the chaotic aftermath of his triumph remains to be seen, heavy pressure put on electors in states he won to defect.

If successful in convincing 37 or more pledged to him, House members will choose Obama’s successor, each state getting one vote. Trump won 30 to Hillary’s 20.

On Fox News Sunday, RNC chairman, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said “(w)e expect everything to fall in line…(W)e’re very confident that everything is going to be very smooth.”

Responding to reports of elector harassment and intimidation, Trump tweeted “(i)f my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned & called terrible names!”

AP News tried reaching all 538 electors. They canvassed 330, finding only one pledged to trump in Texas defecting.

What to expect on Monday? In all likelihood, Trump will be formally elected to succeed Obama, efforts to deny him failing – phony claims of Russian election hacking the main tactic.

On January 6, a joint congressional session will certify the results, Trump’s inauguration to follow on January 20.

At the same time, nothing is certain given an underhanded campaign to deny him the office he legitimately won, the likes of which never occurred in America before – government agencies and media scoundrels behind it, a coup d’etat attempt to change the election result.

Most important is what happens next. A month remains before Trump’s inauguration. January 20 protests are planned to block his peaceful transition.

Vilifying him without letup continues. A previous article said presidential inaugurations are usually dull affairs. Not this year if mass disruption happens like dark forces intend.

Once empowered as president, impeachment and removal from office could follow, the first time in US history if it happens.

House representatives impeached Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Senate members acquitted them. Richard Nixon resigned ahead of expected impeachment.

Trump’s presidency appears likely to be tumultuous, relentless bashing continuing, assassination possible, four previous presidents succumbing this way – Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Jack Kennedy.

Failed assassination attempts targeted Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan.

Trump could be targeted like a dozen former presidents, four assassination attempts successful.

Since its 1947 establishment, CIA elements were behind hundreds of successful and unsuccessful assassination attempts – 634 failed ones against Fidel Castro alone, according to Cuban intelligence, along with dozens of coup attempts to topple independent foreign leaders.

The agency is part of a coup plot to deny Trump the office he won. Failure in the Electoral College may be followed by trying to remove him another way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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A Spy Coup in America?

December 19th, 2016 by Robert Parry

As Official Washington’s latest “group think” solidifies into certainty – that Russia used hacked Democratic emails to help elect Donald Trump – something entirely different may be afoot: a months-long effort by elements of the U.S. intelligence community to determine who becomes the next president.

I was told by a well-placed intelligence source some months ago that senior leaders of the Obama administration’s intelligence agencies – from the CIA to the FBI – were deeply concerned about either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump ascending to the presidency. And, it’s true that intelligence officials often come to see themselves as the stewards of America’s fundamental interests, sometimes needing to protect the country from dangerous passions of the public or from inept or corrupt political leaders.

CIA Director John Brennan addresses officials at the Agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Photo credit: CIA)

It was, after all, a senior FBI official, Mark Felt, who – as “Deep Throat” – guided The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their Watergate investigation into the criminality of President Richard Nixon. And, I was told by former U.S. intelligence officers that they wanted to block President Jimmy Carter’s reelection in 1980 because they viewed him as ineffectual and thus not protecting American global interests.

It’s also true that intelligence community sources frequently plant stories in major mainstream publications that serve propaganda or political goals, including stories that can be misleading or entirely false.

What’s Going On?

So, what to make of what we have seen over the past several months when there have been a series of leaks and investigations that have damaged both Clinton and Trump — with some major disclosures coming, overtly and covertly, from the U.S. intelligence community led by CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey?

FBI Director James Comey

Some sources of damaging disclosures remain mysterious. Clinton’s campaign was hobbled by leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee – showing it undercutting Clinton’s chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders – and from her campaign chairman John Podesta – exposing the content of her speeches to Wall Street banks that she had tried to hide from the voters and revealing the Clinton Foundation’s questionable contacts with foreign governments.

Clinton – already burdened with a reputation for secrecy and dishonesty – suffered from the drip, drip, drip of releases from WikiLeaks of the DNC and Podesta emails although it remains unclear who gave the emails to WikiLeaks. Still, the combination of the two email batches added to public suspicions about Clinton and reminded people why they didn’t trust her.

But the most crippling blow to Clinton came from FBI Director Comey in the last week of the campaign when he reopened and then re-closed the investigation into whether she broke the law with her sloppy handling of classified material in her State Department emails funneled through a home server.

Following Comey’s last-minute revival of the Clinton email controversy, her poll numbers fell far enough to enable Trump to grab three normally Democratic states – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – enough to give him a victory in the Electoral College.

Taking Down Trump

However, over the past few weeks, the U.S. intelligence community, led by CIA Director Brennan and seconded by FBI Director Comey, has tried to delegitimize Trump by using leaks to the mainstream U.S. news media to pin the release of the DNC and Podesta emails on Russia and claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally trying to put Trump into the White House.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Austria on June 24, 2014. (Official Russian government photo)

This remarkable series of assessments from the CIA – now endorsed by the leadership of the FBI – come on the eve of the Electoral College members assembling to cast their formal votes to determine who becomes the new U.S. president. Although the Electoral College process is usually simply a formality, the Russian-hacking claims made by the U.S. intelligence community have raised the possibility that enough electors might withhold their votes from Trump to deny him the presidency.

If on Monday enough Trump electors decide to cast their votes for someone else – possibly another Republican – the presidential selection could go to the House of Representatives where, conceivably, the Republican-controlled chamber could choose someone other than Trump.

In other words, there is an arguable scenario in which the U.S. intelligence community first undercut Clinton and, secondly, Trump, seeking — however unlikely — to get someone installed in the White House considered more suitable to the CIA’s and the FBI’s views of what’s good for the country.

Who Did the Leaking?

At the center of this controversy is the question of who leaked or hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. The CIA has planted the story in The Washington Post, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets that it was Russia that hacked both the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped the material to WikiLeaks with the goal of assisting the Trump campaign. The suggestion is that Trump is Putin’s “puppet,” just as Hillary Clinton alleged during the third presidential debate.

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray

But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has publicly denied that Russia was the source of the leaks and one of his associates, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, has suggested that the DNC leak came from a “disgruntled” Democrat upset with the DNC’s sandbagging of the Sanders campaign and that the Podesta leak came from the U.S. intelligence community.

Although Assange recently has sought to muzzle Murray’s public comments – out of apparent concern for protecting the identity of sources – Murray offered possibly his most expansive account of the sourcing during a podcast interview with Scott Horton on Dec. 13.

Murray, who became a whistleblower himself when he protested Britain’s tolerance of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, explained that he consults with Assange and cooperates with WikiLeaks “without being a formal member of the structure.”

But he appears to have undertaken a mission for WikiLeaks to contact one of the sources (or a representative) during a Sept. 25 visit to Washington where he says he met with a person in a wooded area of American University. At the time, Murray was at American University participating in an awards ceremony for former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was being honored by a group of former Western intelligence officials, the Sam Adams Associates, named for the late Vietnam War-era CIA analyst and whistleblower Sam Adams.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, a founder of the Sam Adams group, told me that Murray was “m-c-ing” the event but then slipped away, skipping a reception that followed the award ceremony.

Reading Between LInes

Though Murray has declined to say exactly what the meeting in the woods was about, he may have been passing along messages about ways to protect the source from possible retaliation, maybe even an extraction plan if the source was in some legal or physical danger.

President-elect Donald J. Trump (Photo credit: donaldjtrump.com)

Murray has disputed a report in London’s Daily Mail that he was receiving a batch of the leaked Democratic emails. “The material, I think, was already safely with WikiLeaks before I got there in September,” Murray said in the interview with Scott Horton. “I had a small role to play.”

Murray also suggested that the DNC leak and the Podesta leak came from two different sources, neither of them the Russian government.

“The Podesta emails and the DNC emails are, of course, two separate things and we shouldn’t conclude that they both have the same source,” Murray said. “In both cases we’re talking of a leak, not a hack, in that the person who was responsible for getting that information out had legal access to that information.”

Reading between the lines of the interview, one could interpret Murray’s comments as suggesting that the DNC leak came from a Democratic source and that the Podesta leak came from someone inside the U.S. intelligence community, which may have been monitoring John Podesta’s emails because the Podesta Group, which he founded with his brother Tony, served as a registered “foreign agent” for Saudi Arabia.

“John Podesta was a paid lobbyist for the Saudi government,” Murray noted. “If the American security services were not watching the communications of the Saudi government’s paid lobbyist in Washington, then the American security services would not be doing their job. … His communications are going to be of interest to a great number of other security services as well.”

Leak by Americans

Scott Horton then asked, “Is it fair to say that you’re saying that the Podesta leak came from inside the intelligence services, NSA [the electronic spying National Security Agency] or another agency?”

“I think what I said was certainly compatible with that kind of interpretation, yeah,” Murray responded. “In both cases they are leaks by Americans.”

In reference to the leak of the DNC emails, Murray noted that “Julian Assange took very close interest in the death of Seth Rich, the Democratic staff member” who had worked for the DNC on voter databases and was shot and killed on July 10 near his Washington, D.C., home.

Murray continued, “WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture of his killers. So, obviously there are suspicions there about what’s happening and things are somewhat murky. I’m not saying – don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that he was the source of the [DNC] leaks. What I’m saying is that it’s probably not an unfair indication to draw that WikiLeaks believes that he may have been killed by someone who thought he was the source of the leaks … whether correctly or incorrectly.”

Though acknowledging that such killings can become grist for conspiracy buffs, Murray added: “But people do die over this sort of stuff. There were billions of dollars – literally billions of dollars – behind Hillary Clinton’s election campaign and those people have lost their money.

“You have also to remember that there’s a big financial interest – particularly in the armaments industry – in a bad American relationship with Russia and the worse the relationship with Russia is the larger contracts the armaments industry can expect especially in the most high-tech high-profit side of fighter jets and missiles and that kind of thing.

“And Trump has actually already indicated he’s looking to make savings on the defense budget particularly in things like fighter [jet] projects. So, there are people standing to lose billions of dollars and anybody who thinks in that situation bad things don’t happen to people is very naïve.”

An Intelligence Coup?

There’s another possibility in play here: that the U.S. intelligence community is felling a number of birds with one stone. If indeed U.S. intelligence bigwigs deemed both Clinton and Trump unfit to serve as President – albeit for different reasons – they could have become involved in leaking at least the Podesta emails to weaken Clinton’s campaign, setting the candidate up for the more severe blow from FBI Director Comey in the last week of the campaign.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Then, by blaming the leaks on Russian President Putin, the U.S. intelligence leadership could set the stage for Trump’s defeat in the Electoral College, opening the door to the elevation of a more traditional Republican. However, even if that unlikely event – defeating Trump in the Electoral College – proves impossible, Trump would at least be weakened as he enters the White House and thus might not be able to move very aggressively toward a détente with Russia.

Further, the Russia-bashing that is all the rage in the mainstream U.S. media will surely encourage the Congress to escalate the New Cold War, regardless of Trump’s desires, and thus ensure plenty more money for both the intelligence agencies and the military contractors.

Official Washington’s “group think” holding Russia responsible for the Clinton leaks does draw some logical support from the near certainty that Russian intelligence has sought to penetrate information sources around both Clinton and Trump. But the gap between the likely Russian hacking efforts and the question of who gave the email information to WikiLeaks is where mainstream assumptions may fall down.

As ex-Ambassador Murray has said, U.S. intelligence was almost surely keeping tabs on Podesta’s communications because of his ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments. So, the U.S. intelligence community represents another suspect in the case of who leaked those emails to WikiLeaks. It would be a smart play, reminiscent of the convoluted spy tales of John LeCarré, if U.S. intelligence officials sought to cover their own tracks by shifting suspicions onto the Russians.

But just the suspicion of the CIA joining the FBI and possibly other U.S. intelligence agencies to intervene in the American people’s choice of a president would cause President Harry Truman, who launched the CIA with prohibitions against it engaging in domestic activities, and Sen. Frank Church, who investigated the CIA’s abuses, to spin in their graves.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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Macri cumplió un año de gobierno en Argentina

December 19th, 2016 by Julio C. Gambina

Los datos económicos y sociales del 2016 son claros y manifiestan una brutal transferencia de ingresos desde la mayoría de la población con bajos ingresos hacia un núcleo muy concentrado del poder económico.

Es el resultado buscado, con pérdida de poder adquisitivo de quienes perciben ingresos fijos, activos y pasivos, trabajadores regulares e irregulares, con o sin seguridad social. En el otro ángulo ganancias acrecidas por efecto de la devaluación, quita o eliminación de retenciones a las exportaciones, cancelaciones de deuda pública y aumento de las tarifas de servicios públicos privatizados.

Son beneficiados de la política económica los grandes productores y exportadores, del agro, la minería y la industria; los acreedores externos, la banca transnacional, la especulación financiera y las transnacionales que dominan la producción y los servicios en la Argentina. Los perjudicados son la inmensa mayoría de la sociedad.

Así se consolida un orden económico sin lugar para el desarrollo de un mercado interno ampliado, con un amplio abanico social condenado a la pobreza y a la subsistencia, incluida la opción que ofrece el delito para la supervivencia, e incluso la incorporación al mercado de consumo.

En este mapa son variadas las economías regionales en problemas, o los sectores económicos sociales pequeños y medianos de la economía que pierden función, textiles, calzado, juguetes, talleres sidero metalúrgicos, entre muchos otros, y que solo sobreviven en la marginalidad y la ilegalidad. La situación irregular de trabajadores y pequeños empresarios se transforma en un hecho estructural.

Déficit fiscal

Todo el combo de política económica derivo en mayor déficit fiscal para el Estado nacional, argumento oficial para incumplir la promesa de campaña electoral de Macri para eliminar el impuesto a las ganancias a los trabajadores, un sinsentido en sus términos: el salario no es ganancia.

Ante la maniobra de la oposición parlamentaria, que dio media sanción a un proyecto de modificación al impuesto a las ganancias (que no agrada al oficialismo y genera menores ingresos para el Estado) puede el macrismo obstaculizar el proyecto cuando se trate en el Senado, o directamente vetarlo.

Lo real es que bajo cualquier opción, el oficialismo cargará con el costo político del veto o el desfinanciamiento estatal con restricción para la negociación con las provincias, especialmente los gobernadores, también afectados por la disminución de ingresos estatales.

El veto presidencial puede disparar el conflicto sindical, de las organizaciones de mayor convocatoria a la hora de un Paro Nacional.

Hasta ahora, la pulseada con el sindicalismo tradicional la venía ganando el gobierno que postergó vía negociaciones el Paro Nacional, invocado por las CTAs y otras organizaciones sindicales y activos de trabajadoras y trabajadores en conflicto.

Desde el punto de vista económico, el déficit se financia con nuevo y mayor endeudamiento público, lo que augura nuevas crisis de la deuda en el mediano plazo y recrea compromisos de cancelación de intereses y capital a costa de otros rubros de los presupuestos y el gasto público social.

Es un problema agravado con la suba internacional de las tasas de interés y la valorización del dólar, todas consecuencias posteriores a la elección de Donald Trump en EEUU.

Los nuevos tiempos de la política mundial potencian la dependencia del capitalismo local a la lógica de la ganancia que imponen las transnacionales y la política económica de las principales potencias del mundo.

Expectativa por el desembarco de los inversores externos

El 2017, año de renovación parcial del Parlamento se pone en juego la capacidad política del gobierno Macri para hacer posible la finalización del mandato y optar por un nuevo periodo. Se trata de un propósito por el que disputan otros proyectos políticos que se ofrecen como mejores gestores del gobierno de la Argentina.

La clave está en la gestión del conflicto social. Unos en el gobierno esperan contenerlo, aun a costa del mayor gasto público, algo que a los más ortodoxos en el gobierno no les suena nada bien, caso del elenco directivo en el BCRA. Otros, desde la oposición estimulan la amenaza del conflicto y proponen perspectivas de distribución del ingreso de difícil materialización sin cambiar sustancialmente el modelo productivo y de desarrollo.

Macri dijo que iba a cambiar la lógica económica del periodo anterior y solo agravó las consecuencias sociales. Otros reivindican los primeros 4 años de la experiencia kirchnerista e imaginan la posibilidad de un capitalismo nacional con distribución progresiva del ingreso, por lo que no dudan en hacer alianzas con el macrismo o el kirchnerismo, según sean las circunstancias. Con el macrismo para cancelar deuda, por ejemplo, y con el kirchnerismo para modificar el impuesto a las ganancias, in-modificado en los años previos, incluso con mayoría parlamentaria.

No resultará sencillo cumplir con esas aspiraciones de control del conflicto social, ya que el deterioro de los ingresos populares genera descontento, base de la protesta y organización popular. Pero, al mismo tiempo, el imaginario de un capitalismo con mayor distribución del ingreso sosteniendo la primarización exportadora actual confronta con la posibilidad de un capitalismo redistributivo, amén de no conciliar con la lógica de los inversores. Es lo que ocurrió en estos últimos años, con extensión de la producción de soja para la exportación, ídem la minería y los hidrocarburos.

Bajar el costo laboral como propósito

En este sentido, todos, en el gobierno y en la oposición sistémica, aspiran a una recuperación de la economía vía inversiones externas. Por su parte, los inversores exigen cambios en las reglas del juego económico, es decir, seguridad jurídica para sus inversiones. Eso requiere profundizar el cambio regresivo en la relación entre el capital y el trabajo, con mayor precarización y control de la respuesta y el conflicto sindical y social.

Las inversiones no llegaron aun a la Argentina porque se requiere seguridad de recupero de la inversión, con una rentabilidad adecuada a las condiciones de funcionamiento en crisis del sistema mundial del capitalismo. Hay que bajar el costo salarial pregonan.

Argumentan que solo 8 millones de población económicamente activa del sector privado en la producción y los servicios sostienen una política de empleo público, la seguridad social y la previsión que involucra en su conjunto a 20 millones de personas.

Claman por terminar con esa situación, alivianando impuestos al sector privado para hacer atractiva a la Argentina para los inversores.

Por eso, la llave está en la gestión del conflicto para hacer sustentable el orden capitalista. Pero también, el conflicto puede desatar la disputa por otro modelo productivo y de desarrollo modificando la agenda de la discusión, donde ya no talle la ganancia sino la satisfacción de las necesidades de la sociedad.

Vale discutir quien produce y cómo, pero también cual es la apropiación de ese producto social, cuales son las normas de la organización del trabajo, la extensión de la jornada, los beneficios sociales y la inserción de la economía local en el sistema mundial, empezando por nuevas y fraternales relaciones con los países vecinos, algo que suena contradictorio con las recientes sanciones a Venezuela en el Mercosur.

Julio C. Gambina

Julio C. Gambina: Presidente de la Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales y Políticas, FISYP.

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Una nacionalización del maltrecho Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA parece cada vez más probable. Sin embargo, el rescate del banco toscano —que podría producirse la semana próxima— no resolverá los problemas que afectan a los bancos italianos.

Algunos están urgiendo a Roma a que aproveche la ocasión para iniciar un amplio saneamiento del sistema bancario, que cuenta con una cartera de 360.000 millones de euros en activos tóxicos y es uno de los menos rentables de Europa. “Los problemas de algunos bancos concretos pueden resolverse”, indica Giovanni Bossi, presidente ejecutivo de Banca Ifis SpA. “Pero es necesario completar la reforma del modelo de negocio de los bancos italianos”.

Sin embargo, con la excepción de un posible apoyo a un conjunto de pequeños bancos, en condiciones críticas, es improbable que haya una intervención a nivel sectorial. Para mantenerse a flote, Monte dei Paschi está haciendo un último esfuerzo desesperado por captar 5.000 millones de euros para finales de este año. Para ello, el banco tiene previsto canjear deuda por capital y realizar una venta de acciones esta semana, según fuentes al tanto. Ambas transacciones podrían durar como mucho un par de días, indicaron las fuentes.

Si el banco no logra reunir el dinero que necesita de los inversionistas privados, el Estado italiano intervendrá y rescatará al banco, dijo esta semana una fuente del Tesoro.

Pero según la normativa europea, este rescate o cualquier esfuerzo de sanear el sistema bancario local no puede realizarse sin imponer pérdidas a los accionistas y a los bonistas. Esta opción es dura para cualquier Gobierno italiano, ya que cerca de 30.000 millones de euros en bonos junior de los bancos, con elevado riesgo, están en manos de inversionistas particulares.

La idea de celebrar elecciones en Italia el año próximo y la posibilidad de un auge de los partidos populistas dispuestos a oponerse a los planes del Gobierno de ayudar a los bancos reduce las probabilidades de que el Ejecutivo tome medidas audaces más allá de Monte dei Paschi en este momento, incluido el nuevo Gobierno interino italiano.

Además, las políticas promulgadas por el anterior Gobierno para impulsar el sector todavía tienen que ganar tracción.

Los bancos italianos se enfrentan a problemas en múltiples frentes. La economía casi se ha estancado y no se espera que crezca más de 1% en los próximos años, y el modelo ultratradicional de los bancos italianos ofrece pocas esperanzas de acabar con el dolor que las bajas tasas de interés provocan en el sector financiero europeo.

Todo esto ha reducido el margen de intermediación de los bancos y la feroz competencia está reduciendo los tipos de los préstamos. De hecho, los bancos italianos han visto cómo sus ingresos derivados de la actividad crediticia caían en un tercio desde 2008, según la consultora Prometeia SpA.

Al mismo tiempo, el tipo de interés de los depósitos en Italia no están cambiando mucho, y los bancos pagan un punto porcentual más que el tipo de referencia a un año, según Barclays .

Mientras tanto, los costos siguen siendo altos. Los bancos italianos, que emplean a 350.000 personas, invirtieron 64% de sus ingresos en gastos operativos, frente a 50% de las entidades españolas y 60% de los bancos griegos. Los costosos paquetes de despido y los rígidos contratos de empleo desaceleran los esfuerzos para reducir los costos de los bancos, que han caído 2% en el último año.

El resultado de todo esto es que la rentabilidad sobre fondos propios de los bancos italianos era de 4,8% el año pasado, frente a 14% de los bancos irlandeses o el 8,3% de la banca gala.

Mientras, los préstamos morosos han seguido aumentando y los persistentes problemas económicos de Italia han llevado a más compañías a la quiebra. Sin embargo, los escasos beneficios de los bancos son demasiado exiguos como para cubrir las pérdidas que provocarían las rebajas de valor.

Esto ha hecho que los bancos sean reacios a traspasar sus préstamos a los inversionistas dispuestos a comprarlos a precios reducidos. Aunque este año se vendieron 20.000 millones de euros en préstamos morosos, sólo representaron 6% de todos los activos tóxicos.

Según la Autoridad Bancaria Europea, más de 16% de los préstamos en Italia son morosos, el triple que la media europea.

Los esfuerzos de UniCredit SpA, el mayor banco de Italia y que cuenta con más préstamos tóxicos que ningún otro banco europeo, para solventar sus problemas ponen de manifiesto la escasez de capital que tienen las entidades italianas. El martes, el banco —que tiene 77.000 millones de euros en créditos morosos— dijo que rebajaría en 75% el valor de sus préstamos más tóxicos y de aquéllos con una improbabilidad de pagar de 40%. El banco ahora debe captar 13.000 millones de euros para cubrir en parte esas pérdidas generadas con las rebajas de valor.

Giovanni Legorano

Giovanni Legorano: Periodista de The Wall Street Journal.

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El Centro de Investigación sobre la Globalización (Global Research) comparte con sus lectores una interesante entrevista de radio realizada a James Petras a través de Radio Centenario (CX36), sobre las elecciones de Estados Unidos y la guerra mediática en contra de Donald Trump.

Chury: Petras, tú sabes que aquí en el sur estamos sorprendidos de las informaciones que hablan de una alteración casi de las elecciones norteamericanas a través de la intromisión de Rusia ¿Cómo se está viendo allí? ¿Qué opina Trump? ¿Qué dicen los demócratas? ¿Qué dice Clinton?

Petras: Bueno, podríamos empezar enfatizando la importante gravedad de lo que está ocurriendo. No es nada más ni menos que un golpe, un golpe institucional que trata de negar la elección de Donald Trump. Lo están organizando las instituciones como la CIA, como forma de ilegitimar al nuevo gobierno y tratar de acusarlos de traidores.

Es decir, quieren implicar a Trump como un traidor, un cómplice de Rusia y decir que la policía federal está implicada, que no sólo engañaron al público sobre las elecciones con datos conseguidos por la inteligencia ruso, sino que quieren penetrar hasta el Estado y los nombramientos de Trump. Y para ese golpe están movilizando al Congreso y a todos los partidos de la derecha, centro, izquierda para negar lo que ocurre en las elecciones.

Es decir que Trump es cómplice de Rusia y todos sus colaboradores están involucrados en el engaño. Nada de eso tiene ninguna prueba, las está inventando la CIA, que está involucrada dentro de la política doméstica en esta conspiración para negar la decisión constitucional.

Es un modelo que utilizaron en Brasil, en Paraguay, en Honduras, países donde un sector del gobierno utiliza algún mecanismo falsificado para desplazar al presidente legítimo. Incluso en EEUU es peor porque acusan al presidente electo de traidor, implicado con un poder extranjero que es enemigo de EEUU. Obama, que se ha metido en todos los problemas mundiales, interviniendo en todos los golpes, ahora quiere repetir el mismo escenario para EEUU. Y por primera vez en la historia tenemos una versión del golpismo latinoamericano en los EEUU.

La prensa burguesa, la prensa liberal, y la prensa supuestamente de centro izquierda, están implicados y repitiendo todas las acusaciones de traición, de conspiración rusa, sin presentar ninguna prueba definitiva o cuestionable.

Trump está respondiendo de una manera específica, está llenando sus puestos y posiciones con militares y multimillonarios, como contrapeso a las instituciones que Obama ha lanzado contra él. Hay una lucha de elites.

Con los militares nombrados en puestos de seguridad, Trump está creando un poder de militares que podrían resistir el golpe organizado por la CIA. Con los multimillonarios está justificando sus relaciones con Rusia y las otras propuestas que tiene sobre la mesa. Y precisamente el nuevo canciller es el director de la Exxon, la empresa más importante de petróleo, que están muy vinculados en el comercio con Rusia, y eso también es una posición fuerte.

Y finalmente Trump ha hecho un viaje por diferentes ciudades llenando estadios para contrarrestar las presiones de sectores de izquierda y centro-izquierda que se han lanzado como cipayos de los golpistas.

Entonces, estamos en una situación que parece una guerra civil clandestina porque está ocurriendo en gran parte en la institucionalidad. Son la policía federal contra la CIA. Son los militares contra los congresistas. Son los multimillonarios, un sector contra otro. Y eso no se habla en ninguno de los medios, ni los críticos ni los que apoyan el proceso político actual.

Pero nosotros creemos que es la realidad porque estamos acostumbrados a ver lo que ha pasado en América Latina en el último período, y hay una réplica norteamericana que entendemos mejor porque hemos estudiado los últimos golpes institucionales en América Latina.

Chury: Otro tema, ¿son importantes los movimientos políticos gubernamentales que han ocurrido en Italia para la Unión Europea? ¿Cómo ves eso?

Petras: Es una mezcla de fuerzas. Está el 5 Estrellas que es un partido heterogéneo, más o menos de centro-izquierda, que está criticando al gobierno de Renzi, ya que los ex comunistas que se han derechizado bastante, podríamos decir que son de centro-derecha. Y más allá de eso está la Fuerza Social de Berlusconi, está la Liga Norte, que son agrupaciones muy de derecha. Entonces, hubo una alianza de la centro-izquierda y la derecha contra el gobierno de centro-derecha de Renzi.

Ahora, entre los opositores de Renzi y opositores del referéndum, había también muchas empresas locales que tienen miedo que con el referéndum vayan a centralizar el poder, marginar a las pequeñas y medianas industrias y profesionales que están vinculados con el aparato del Estado.

Entonces, también hay fuerzas en la oposición que están contra la Unión Europea y la oligarquía de Bruselas. Y hay otros grupos que siguen apoyando a la Unión Europea.

Chury: Me voy a Turquía y a Siria. ¿Por qué ese empeño en quitar a Bashar al-Asad del medio que llevan adelante inclusive la Unión Europea, los EEUU, Turquía y otros Estados? ¿Es decir, cómo se ve la situación en este momento en Siria?

Petras: Bueno, hay varias razones. Por ejemplo, Turquía quiere conquistar parte de Siria, el norte, y tal vez lo mismo en Irak. Entonces, hay una política de imperialismo regional de Turquía tratando de extender algo de la imagen otomana del pasado. EEUU, como en Libia y en Irak, busca derrocar al gobierno sin tener mucha idea de quién lo puede reemplazar. Pero como Israel también quiere una Siria dividida, fragmentada, débil, está ganando influencia. Arabia Saudita está contra un gobierno secular democrático y popular, y por esta razón tienen enemistad contra el gobierno de Bashar al-Asad.

Entonces, hay una unidad de varios elementos de la reacción mundial entre Israel, Turquía, Arabia Saudita, encabezados, dirigidos y financiados tanto por Arabia Saudita como por EEUU, que ha mandado más de mil soldados de fuerzas especiales a apoyar a los terroristas y mercenarios, mal llamados rebeldes. Es una de las propagandas que la derecha utiliza para disfrazar a los terroristas invasores y mercenarios.

El problema es que la prensa de centro-izquierda como Página 12, como La Jornada en México, utilizan la fraseología y citan los reportajes que vienen de Washington como noticia. Debemos reconocer la gran victoria de Bashar al-Asad con sus aliados de Irán y Hezbollah en El Líbano, con ayuda de Rusia, al recapturar Alepo.

Pero mientras están avanzando y ganando la liberación de Alepo, Washington facilitó la salida de los terroristas de Irak para lanzar una ofensiva contra Palmira en Siria. No es casual que Daesh consiga más de 4.000 terroristas para invadir, tomando una gran parte de Palmira y donde hay una guerra feroz actualmente. De dónde vienen, cómo transportaran tantas armas pesadas rápidamente en el país. Obviamente un porcentaje importante de los terroristas vienen de Irak y otros lugares donde reciben respaldo de las fuerzas especiales de EEUU.

Chury: Bien Petras, como siempre seguramente estás trabajando también en otros temas y lo dejo para redondear toda esta entrevista…

Petras: Sí, podríamos terminar. Ya hemos discutido los EEUU y Medio Oriente, y para terminar debemos discutir la experiencia en Argentina. Los medios de comunicación en EEUU y Europa, y tal vez un sector importante en América Latina, pensaban que con el gobierno de Macri podría avanzar la economía, aumentar y cosechar enormes ganancias y al mismo tiempo mantener el apoyo popular.

Ninguno de los supuestos está funcionando. Ahora hay más de 400.000 desocupados nuevos, aumentó el número de pobres en 4 millones. Y lo peor de todo, desde el ángulo económico podríamos decir que en Argentina el endeudamiento y las rebajas de impuestos no han atraído al capital. Incluso en el último período hay una fuga de capitales de 12.000 millones que van a Londres, a Washington, algunos están transfiriendo a Uruguay.

Y las exportaciones han caído 6%, el PBI ha bajado 4,7% y la deuda ha crecido en 87.000 millones. Entonces, la deuda aumenta, la economía está cayendo y naturalmente ningún capitalista racional va a invertir en Argentina, especialmente con una inflación de 4% mensual, con deuda fiscal de más del 9%. No hay ninguna razón para que un capitalista mínimamente inteligente vaya a meterse en Argentina en este año, el año próximo y más allá de eso.

Entre lo social y lo económico, Macri es un desastre total. Es decir, al contrario de cualquier otro gobierno que hemos conocido, no hay ninguna aspecto de su pensamiento y prácticas que se pueda justificar. Pero la prensa sigue tratando de inventar alguna cosa positiva. Los especuladores en Nueva York cobraron su dinero, se llenan el bolsillo y se van.

¿Entonces, qué podemos esperar? Esperamos que amplios sectores estén contra Macri, no hay ninguna posibilidad de que pudiera ganar alguna fuerza en el Parlamento, lo que esperamos es que el gobierno sea desplazado y forzado a dejar el gobierno. La inestabilidad está creciendo. Sigue en el poder porque los burócratas corruptos del CGT siguen buscando una salida negociada que es inexistente. Si no fuera por los burócratas sindicales, ya el gobierno paralizado internamente podría caer.

Pero lo que mantiene a Macri no es su política, ni su economía, ni simplemente los militares que lo respaldan; es el hecho de que el movimiento popular está buscando una salida política pero faltan los mecanismos del sindicalismo para hacer la tarea.

James Petras

James Petras: Sociólogo estadounidense conocido por sus estudios sobre el imperialismo, la lucha de clases y los conflictos latinoamericanos.

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La crisis de los BRICS

December 19th, 2016 by Diego Rubinzal

Los Estados Unidos conservan su hegemonía política–económica–-militar en el contexto internacional. “Según datos del Pentágono, en 2002 Estados Unidos contaba con presencia militar en 132 de los 190 países miembros de las Naciones Unidas”, indican Oliver Stone y Peter Kuznick en el libro Historia No oficial de Estados Unidos. Los autores estiman que existen más de mil bases militares estadounidenses distribuidas en todo el globo. Sin perjuicio de eso, el mundo es más multipolar que hace algunas décadas. El clásico sexteto de las economías más desarrolladas (Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, Francia, Alemania, Italia y Japón) ya no maneja a su antojo la agenda mundial.

La irrupción de los BRIC fue una muestra de las transformaciones en curso. El término fue acuñado por un analista de Goldman Sachs, en 2001, para referirse al creciente peso de cuatro economías emergentes (Brasil, Rusia, India, China). El grupo se constituyó como tal en 2009 en pleno desarrollo de la crisis financiera. Los cuatros países comenzaron a unificar posiciones ante los organismos internacionales. Por ejemplo, reclamaron mayor democratización en la toma de decisiones de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) y el Banco Mundial (BM).

Los BRIC, con la incorporación de Sudáfrica en 2011,pasaron a representar el 43 por ciento de la población y 30 por ciento del PIB mundial. El grupo avanzó en el análisis de diversas propuestas como la constitución de un fondo contingente de reservas de divisas por 100 mil millones de dólares y creación de un Banco de Desarrollo para financiar proyectos de infraestructura.

Lo cierto es que la desaceleración económica fue frenando ese dinamismo inicial. La evolución del PIB del año pasado fue decepcionante en Brasil (-3,85 por ciento), Rusia (-3,73) y Sudáfrica (+ 1,3). Los números fueron más favorables en el caso de India (+7,57 por ciento) y China (+ 6,9 por ciento, aunque ese número es muy inferior a las sorprendentes “tasas chinas” de  décadas anteriores).

El analista Daniel Chardell, del programa de las Instituciones Internacionales y la Gobernabilidad Global del Consejo de Relaciones Internacionales, sostuvo que “sería un error mirar a los BRICS sólo a través del prisma de sus indicadores económicos”. Sin embargo, la política tampoco está trayendo buenas noticias. Por caso, la destitución de Dilma Rousseff es una novedad negativa para la continuidad del grupo. El nuevo gobierno brasileño privilegia los lazos económicos y diplomáticos con las potencias centrales. Por otro lado, las últimas elecciones legislativas sudafricanas marcaron un retroceso electoral del Congreso Nacional Africano (CNA). Por primera vez, el partido de Nelson Mandela no superó el 60 por ciento de los votos. El progresivo ascenso electoral de la opositora Alianza Democrática  preocupa al oficialismo sudafricano. El periodista Diego Pietrafesa explica en “Fracturas sudafricanas” que “la economía, estancada desde 2008, no colaboró con la performance del CNA. La tasa de desempleo trepa al 27 por ciento y entre la población negra alcanza el 40 por ciento. La desigualdad social es una asignatura pendiente que no ha podido ser resuelta: los ingresos de la población blanca son, en promedio, hasta cinco veces más altos que los de la población negra. En cuestión de propiedad de tierras, las cuentas son mucho más dispares, ya que los blancos, el 10 por ciento de los sudafricanos, son dueños del 80 por ciento de las extensiones para cultivo”, publicó en Revista Acción, de septiembre 2015.

El debilitamiento de los BRICS operado en los últimos años conspira contra la pretensión de un orden un poco más multipolar y democrático.

Diego Rubinzal

Diego Rubinzal: Colaborador de suplemento Cash de Pagina/12. Periodista de Radio Nacional Santa Fe. Docente de Economia Politica.

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Durante las últimas décadas, mientras una corriente hegemónica del pensamiento económico tendió a enfatizar los beneficios económicos de la globalización para el conjunto de la población, otros economistas fueron planteando su preocupación frente a sus efectos distributivos.

Tanto Dani Rodrik (Has Globalization Gone Too Far?) como Joseph Stiglitz (El malestar de la globalización) fueron advirtiendo sobre un hecho que hoy se convirtió en realidad: llevar adelante un proceso de globalización, al margen de instituciones que puedan regular y legitimar el rol de los mercados, no solo no nos permitiría avanzar hacia un proceso de integración social sino que generaría una tremenda grieta dentro de cada una de las sociedades. Es que un avance desmedido de ese tipo de globalización tendería a exacerbar los problemas de distribución y a profundizar las divisiones sociales

Acontecimientos recientes como el Brexit, la llegada de Trump a la presidencia de Estados Unidos, o el rechazo al referéndum en Italia revelan, precisamente, un proceso de hostilidad creciente ante esta globalización. La interpretación de algunos economistas neoliberales es que, en realidad, la gente está mejor con la globalización pero no lo sabe

En cambio, Rodrik, atribuye una clara responsabilidad, entre otros, a la corriente más ortodoxa de los economistas por ensalzar demasiado las virtudes de la globalización desconociendo el peso de las fallas de mercado. La imperfección de los mercados de crédito, la estrategia de ciertos  monopolios o la existencia de muy bajas retribuciones salariales en distintos países tienden a impactar en forma negativa a un conjunto muy grande de la población frente a una situación de libre comercio.

Acuerdos como el NAFTA o la entrada de China a la OMC fue deteriorando la situación de sectores menos calificados en países como Estados Unidos. Se fue así generando una división entre aquellos que tienen los conocimientos para aprovechar la globalización y los que no los tienen, es decir una situación de crecientes niveles de desigualdad que potenciaron a los efectos provocados por los cambios tecnológicos.

Esta subestimación de la fragilidad política resultante del proceso de globalización, junto a los problemas vinculados a la inmigración y a las pobres respuestas brindadas por los partidos socialdemócratas en los países del Norte, ha llevado a la emergencia de posturas nacionalistas y racistas.  Esto explica porque el desafío político frente a la globalización no proviene de sectores de izquierda sino que está siendo liderado por políticos como Trump o Le Pen.

Frente a lo que se presenta como un vacío intelectual frente a la realidad actual por parte de amplios sectores políticos, cabe destacar la aparición de nuevas advertencias y propuestas de políticas, como las generadas por Thomas Piketty y Tony Atkinson, o a las vinculadas a reformas globales del sistema planteadas por Stiglitz. Lo que distingue a estas últimas alternativas es que, lejos de profundizar las divisiones de la sociedad, se proponen, desde una perspectiva de inclusión social, replantear un balanceo entre la globalización y las autonomías nacionales. Estas propuestas no pueden ser ignoradas y deben ser materia de una profunda discusión para definir las estrategias económicas que deben plantearse hoy los países de América latina frente a los dramáticos cambios que están teniendo lugar en la escena internacional.

Marta Bekerman

Martha Bekerman: Docente e investigadora de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas de la Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)..

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El vicepresidente boliviano explica por qué no formará dupla electoral con Evo Morales, cuya repostulación en 2019 quiere aprobar el Congreso del MAS. La principal noticia del Congreso del oficialista Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), que comienza este jueves, es la decisión que ha tomado Álvaro García Linera, vicepresidente del país y teórico del proceso político liderado por Evo Morales, de no formar parte de la dupla con este, a quien el MAS intentará repostular una vez más en 2019 después de remontar el resultado del referendo constitucional de este año, que no autorizó esta acción.

“(Mi decisión) ayuda a que nuestro presidente tenga un mayor margen de maniobra en el ámbito de los acuerdos internos y externos para cohesionar la estructura política”, asegura García Linera en una entrevista con este periódico. Pero no significa que abandone a Evo, a quien “acompañaré en todas las batallas futuras”. García Linera quiere dejar el Estado para “ir a la primera línea” –donde afirma que le encanta estar—“allí donde se define nuestro destino”. Este lugar es “la batalla cultural, la batalla por las ideas”.

Pregunta. Usted ha dicho que “la revolución boliviana vive un reflujo”. ¿Esto explica los hechos últimos, que el MAS haya tenido su primera derrota electoral en el referendo de febrero de este año y que el Gobierno enfrente con mayor dificultad las crisis que se van produciendo?

Respuesta. Lo que estamos viviendo los últimos tres años es un repliegue de la oleada. Seguimos en el momento de hegemonía (del MAS), porque no hay un proyecto alternativo que pueda poner en duda el tipo de sociedad que está en marcha. Pese a la virulencia de los opositores, la multiplicación de las críticas, no hay un proyecto alternativo al nuestro. El repliegue ocurre en todas las revoluciones, a partir de un hecho claro: la gente no puede movilizarse perpetuamente; pasado un tiempo de heroísmo, se repliega a sus actividades cotidianas. Es un momento normal, ineludible en toda revolución. En cualquier revolución una parte de la sociedad se vuelve “clase universal”, es decir, portadora de proyectos universales, que interesan a todos. Construye unos “comunes” que atraen al resto de la sociedad y en torno a los cuales se da la movilización. Esto se traduce en políticas públicas, como (en Bolivia) la nacionalización, la redistribución de la riqueza. El momento del repliegue es inverso: la sociedad se repliega en lo corporativo, lo individual, lo local; y entonces quien se queda con el monopolio de la universal es el Estado. Complicado para un revolucionario que está pensando en la paulatina disolución del Estado. En cambio, mejor para un funcionario: es un tiempo sin mucho sobresalto estratégico, aunque no falten los sobresaltos tácticos. El Estado queda como un ente hegeliano. Por eso el deber del revolucionario es impulsar nuevamente, desde todas partes, la construcción de “universales”, una tarea que puede durar años.

P. ¿Esta lucha será otra vez contra el Estado?

R. No, porque ahora el Estado es poroso, se da cuenta de lo que está pasando y no pone exclusas a la sociedad. Los anteriores Estados creaban sus murallas. Este es un Estado que está demandando más sociedad.

P. Para ser un Estado hegeliano, se lo ve débil, dados los problemas de gestión que se están presentando (falta de agua en La Paz, problemas en las instituciones).

R. Sin ánimo de encubrir estas falencias evidentes, pienso que hay descuido, incompetencias, errores, pero en el marco de un Estado agigantado, que ha crecido mucho más que los hábitos, las habilidades y capacidades de sus funcionarios. Pasamos de ser un Estado que administraba 600 millones de dólares con 150.000 funcionarios, a un Estado que administra 8.000 millones de dólares con 300.000 funcionarios. La burocracia se ha duplicado, pero las funciones estatales han aumentado un 1.200%. Este desencuentro explica la situación.

P. Se nota una creciente polarización entre el Gobierno de izquierda y las clases medias, que parecen más conservadoras y contestatarias.

R. Siempre ha habido un pedazo de las clases altas que se ha opuesto belicosamente e incluso de manera armada al “proceso de cambio”. El golpe de 2008 ha sido el epítome de esa insurgencia de las clases, que ha sido derrotada en términos políticos, militares y culturales. Pero esta oposición no ha desparecido, siguen ahí, y ahora toma más cuerpo en la critica. Estos sectores nunca se han tragado que un indígena esté gobernando. Antes no lo decían en tono alto, sino en la intimidad de sus cenas y reuniones. Ahora lo han hecho público. Sus escribanos visibilizan este malestar racial de quienes tenían en los blancos un capital social, de quienes hicieron de su piel, su vestimenta, sus modales, un capital. Le dimos un golpe muy duro al capital étnico. Lo devaluamos. Hubo entonces una reacción. Es normal. Lo sabíamos. Ellos nunca votaron por nosotros y nunca lo harán, la historia inscrita en su piel es más fuerte que las ideas. No me preocupan. Lo que me preocupa en este nuevo humor del tiempo histórico es la despolitización de las clases sociales, que las vuelve más permeables a otros referentes de construcción de opinión publica que ya no sean los sindicatos y las asambleas. Una población más despolitizada es también más permeable al discurso de los bloques racistas, que, entonces, comienzan a tener un mayor eco, una mayor recepción a sus prejuicios.

P. ¿Este fenómeno es parte del llamado “giro a la derecha” que se da en Latinoamérica?

R. Si nosotros entendemos el proceso de repliegue y seguimos en el Gobierno, tenemos posibilidad de remontarlo. A diferencia nuestra, en otros países no supieron detectar la reconfiguración de las ideologías sociales. Además, nos diferencia el modelo económico: si no tuviéramos uno sólido estuviéramos en otro lado. ¿Qué hace la economías? Te da una red de protección; sin eso un error político puede ser tu perdición; claro que no hay que exagerar, porque demasiados errores políticos e ideológicos pueden agotar este marco económico de protección.

A diferencia de lo que pasa en otros países, las críticas contra nuestro proceso no van a la sustancia, sino a ciertas formas de administración. La sociedad está moralmente conforme con el proceso general de transformación que está en marcha. En Brasil y Argentina, en cambio, lo que hay es una restauración neoliberal.

P. ¿Qué papel jugará el Congreso del MAS y Álvaro García Linera en la tarea de remontar este “reflujo”?

R. Álvaro García ha de seguir acompañando al presidente Evo en todas las batallas futuras, de eso no cabe la menor duda. Pero soy más útil en otra trinchera, que considero más difícil: Publicar, escribir, tener un programa de radio o tv, formar cuadros, lo que sea posible en la batalla de las ideas, clave de la continuidad y donde estamos más débiles. Para un revolucionario, es mejor estar por fuera del Gobierno.

Álvaro García Linera

Álvaro García Linera: Vicepresidente de Bolivia.

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The Electoral College of 538 members will meet behind closed doors on December 19 in each of the Fifty States, to cast their ballots. There is no national meeting of the Electoral College. 

Under federal law, “each elector must sign six copies certifying their votes for president and vice president.”

These 6 signed copies (ballots)  are then sent to the following entities: one goes to the president of the Senate, 2 copies to the State’s chief election officers, one to a State level judge and 2 to the National Archives.

It is only on January 6 2017, that the US Congress (Senate and House) presided by Vice President Jo Biden,  officially counts the electoral votes.

The vote count will already be known by a number of officials including Vice President Jo Biden. (And no doubt, selected Wall Street speculators will have advanced knowledge of the results prior to January 6, 2017.)

At the congressional session on January 6:

“Lawmakers can technically object — in writing, with objections signed by at least one House and one Senate member — to individual electoral votes or entire states’ results. If the House and Senate support that objection, the vote or votes in question are thrown out. But that has never happened.”

Reports suggest that the election of Donald Trump is not ensured. At least 20 Electors are considering changing their vote, according to an earlier report.

If 37 electors change their vote, Trump would fall short of the 270 required votes to win the presidency.

Meanwhile, the propaganda campaign against Trump has gone into high gear. The intent is to prevent Trump from acceding to the White House.

On NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) (December 17) which is viewed by millions of Americans, seated at the piano, Hillary Clinton played by Kate McKinnon:

“shows up at an elector’s door with an armful of poster boards “because it’s Christmas,” …

“I know you’re an elector,” she says via the posters. “[see below] And on December 19th, you’re supposed to vote for Donald Trump. …

The subsequent posters were a seemingly endless list of reasons why Trump should not be president as Clinton urged the elector to vote for anyone else.”

Mrs Clinton tells the elector, “you don’t have to vote for me” and offers several other options, including Zendaya, Tom Hanks, the Rock, and an actual rock.

The episode, hosted by Casey Affleck, also included a sketch featuring Alec Baldwin as Mr Trump and John Goodman playing Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil who was recently announced as the Trump team’s pick for secretary of state.

It also included a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who came down the chimney into Mr Trump’s office.”

The finale of this SNL charade concludes with the last two posters which read:

If Donald Trump becomes president, “He will kill us all,”

Screenshots

He is an agent of Moscow, “Trump will kill Us All”, says Hillary (Kate McKinnon).

This last message is part of a diabolical and hideous propaganda ploy: the message which enters into the inner consciousness of millions of Americans would be as follows: “If he wants to kill us all,  the College Electors should not vote for  him….”

The objective is clear: denigrate Trump in the eyes of public opinion, put pressure on the College Electors NOT TO VOTE FOR TRUMP on December 19 because he is “sleeping with the enemy”, he is an agent of Moscow. 

A political crisis is in the making which will engulf the whole country.

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UPDATE 

December 18, 2016 (First published on December 12, 2016)

Obama’s statement at his December 16 White House press conference together with CIA Director John O. Brennan’s recent “revelations”, constitute an “official”  acknowledgment that Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation directly and deliberately interfered in the US presidential elections on behalf  Donald Trump. These are serious and unsubstantiated accusations directed against Moscow as well as against the president elect.  

What this suggests is that a “soft” Coup with the backing of  US intelligence is underway to prevent Donald Trump from acceding to the White House. 

The objective is clear: denigrate Trump in the eyes of public opinion, put pressure on the College Electors NOT TO VOTE FOR TRUMP on December 19 because he is “sleeping with the enemy”, he is an agent of Moscow.

This strategy is confirmed by the outgoing Obama administration, with the backing of both the CIA and the FBI.

We are dealing with a coordinated endeavor sustained by persistent media propaganda, anti-Trump protests organized by the Hillary faction across the US, a campaign on social media coupled with a disruption campaign.

This initiative on behalf of the Hillary faction should be  distinguished  from the campaign against Trump emanating from the  grassroots of American society.

What is required is a mass movement divorced from competing Trump-Clinton elite factions coupled with an effective counter-propaganda campaign across America which reveals the lies and fabrications of the corporate media.

What happens on December 19 is of crucial significance.

Whatever the outcome, the US is gearing towards a far-reaching constitutional crisis. 

Michel Chossudovsky, December 18, 2016

*       *      *

In a previous article entitled Constitutional Crisis, Movement to Undermine President-elect Donald Trump’s Accession to the White House? I focussed on the process of confrontation between the Trump and Clinton factions leading up to the Grand Electoral College Vote on December 19th.

While the Hillary Clinton faction supported by mainstream media propaganda is accusing Moscow of intervening in the US elections on behalf of Trump, they are  also intent upon shifting the Electoral College vote in favour of Clinton with a view to blocking president-elect Trump’s accession to the White House.

If this were to succeed, the U.S. would be precipitated into a deap-seated political crisis. It should be noted that this process is also coupled with  extensive anti-Trump protests across America, organized by the Clinton faction. 

What is a stake: “are fundamental rivalries within the US establishment marked by the clash between competing corporate factions, each of which is intent upon exerting control over the incoming US presidency.”  (Ibid)

Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State 

Since the publication of  my earlier article, ExxonMobil Chief Rex Tillerson has been chosen by Trump to occupy the key position of  US Secretary of State.  This appointment potentially points to a major shift in US foreign policy (including an openly anti-China stance by Trump).  It is also points to rising divisions within the US establishment.  Tillerson not only has a good relationship with president Vladimir Putin, ExxonMobil also has  sizeable business interests in the Russian Federation including drilling projects in the Arctic, Black Sea and Siberia in partnership with Russia’s Rosneft. Needless to say these projects have been affected by Obama’s economic sanctions regime directed against Russia.

In response to this controversial appointment, the Neocon faction linked both to the bi-partisan “War Party” has promised to block the confirmation of  Tillerson’s candidacy in the US Senate.

It should be noted that Wall Street is also divided. Financial institutions are engaged in an internal war. Donald Trump announced on December 12 his choice to head the White House National Economic Council (NEC): the appointee is Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer. The NEC director occupies a central advisory position regarding the formulation of government economic policy. Ironically, Cohn is a Democrat and Goldman Sachs is known to have supported the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Global Military Agenda

We are not dealing with “class conflict”. What is at stake are rivalries, confrontations and deep divisions within the elite structures with regard to America’s global military agenda.

While Hillary is the candidate of the US Military Industrial Complex, her hawkish foreign policy agenda does not directly serve the interests of a large segment of corporate America including a sizeable sector of the oil industry.

According to Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, “Interventionism is a business and it has a constituency and she is tapping into it,…. She [Clinton] is for the military industrial complex, and she is for the neoconservatives.”

Clinton reaped generous donations through the Clinton Foundation, rewarded  for the multibillion dollar contracts she approved in favour of the weapons industry while she was Secretary of State under Obama. These included a $29 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, for which she received a $10 million contribution deposited in  the coffers of the Clinton Foundation:

“The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire”

…Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration.

American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012. (See  (Business Times investigation, May 26, 2005)

The stakes behind these multibillion dollar contracts for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, et al are exceedingly high. Hillary Clinton’s  military agenda constitutes a multibillion dollar bonanza for the weapons industry which could potentially lead to a Third World War. According to the New York Times,  Clinton (if she were to be elected, depending on the outcome of the College Electoral Vote) would “redouble efforts to punish and isolate Moscow for war crimes in Syria’s civil war and aggression toward Ukraine and other neighbors.” (emphasis added)

“Business is Not Good Without War”: Would a  Trump Administration result in Heavy Losses for the Defense Contractors?

Early this week (December 12) the “Shares of Lockheed Martin fell as president-elect Donald Trump tweeted that making F-35 fighter planes is too costly and that he will cut “billions” in costs for military purchases.” (CBC.ca, December 12, 2016)

In fact, “All defence stocks hurt by tweet”:

“with Lockheed Martin Corp. shares falling by five per cent in morning trading, … Shares of other defence stocks, including General Dynamics, which is making military submarines, Northrop Grumman, which is making navigation systems … also moved downwards.” (Ibid)

Needless to say, Rex Tillerson’s candidacy is not favored by the weapons producers. According to the MSM, Trump could face a a “Capitol hill showdown” regarding Tillerson’s candidacy. According to John McCain quoted by CNN, ” Tillerson’s cordial ties with Putin, whom the Arizona Senator considers a US enemy, are a red flag.” (CNN, December 12, 2016).

The Electoral College Vote

On December 12, Ten Grand College electors of whom only one is a Republican released an “open letter” to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper requesting information about ongoing investigations on ties between Trump and “Russian government interference in the election.”  The letter (released on social   media was written by Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

The open letter “seeking the release of U.S. intelligence on possible foreign interference in the election” was also signed by the four Democratic presidential electors in New Hampshire.

Podesta describes the initiative as “bipartisan”, intimating that Trump is “sleeping with enemy”:

“Our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump,… Despite our protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media in the campaign. We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American.”  (quoted by Politico, December 12, 2016)

The fake Moscow interference in the US elections is being used as a propaganda ploy to shift the Electoral College vote in favour of Clinton on December 19th.

Sofar these efforts seem to have failed. But there is more than meets the eye.

A December 19 surprise should not be excluded.

Both factions representing powerful corporate interests are working behind the scenes. The public is not being informed.

The Clinton faction will do its utmost to reverse the vote of the Electoral College.

The (multibillion dollar) stakes are high…

The political implications are potentially devastating.

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The republic was founded “in strict secrecy,” Benjamin Franklin explained. When asked “what have we got, a republic or a monarchy,” he responded “(a) republic, if you can keep it.”

Today he’d say a coup to destroy it is underway in plain sight, the last vestiges of freedom fading with it – a fascist dictatorship emerging, far more ruthless and dangerous than others in world history.

A terrifying state of affairs exists, a grassroots nonviolent revolution vitally needed to change things directed against both the Hillary and Trump factions. Otherwise all is lost.

Nothing but committed mass activism in the streets like never before can work. Voting is a waste of time. If it could change things, it would be banned. It’s permitted because powerful deep state interests get their way no matter how elections turn out.

Monday, Electoral College members vote. Trump needs at least a 270 vote majority to be elected president. The popular vote is meaningless window dressing.

Power brokers choose presidents, not the popular will. On the eve of December 19’s Electors vote, it’s up for grabs whether Trump will get the office he won.

If so, will he keep it? Will he serve out his term, run for reelection or be impeached and removed from office.

Wrongfully accusing Russia of hacking America’s election reflects an old-fashioned coup attempt to delegitimize Trump, deprive him of the majority EC votes he needs to take office, or eliminate him another way if he gets them. Never before in US history have things sunk to today’s deplorable state.

Pro-Hillary neocons infesting Washington are behind the coup attempt, including the CIA, NSA, DNI, FBI, DHS, congressional extremists, perhaps some Pentagon generals and admirals, maybe Obama, and the corporate media by hyping anti-Trump fake news and vilifying him mercilessly.

Paul Craig Roberts is right explaining “only a counter-coup,” a popular uprising against pro-Hillary dark forces can stop what’s going on in America.

President-elect Trump is powerless to halt it. He’s being set up to be denied the office he won or perhaps eliminated if able to win an EC majority needed to succeed Obama.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

 

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Army generals unsurprisingly have tended to be remembered best for feats concocted on the battlefield when managing formations of soldiers pitted against similar opposition in an international or a civil war.

But the changing nature of military conflict since the end of the Second World War has seen a diminution of all out wars between massed national armies and an increase in what are termed low intensity conflicts where a national army has to contend with an insurgency.

The wars fought by the fading colonial powers Britain and France to put down insurrections in the post-war period such as occurred in Palestine, Indochina, Malaya, Kenya, Algeria and others, are notable examples. These conflicts provided fertile breeding ground for a type of soldier immersed in the sort of strategies and tactics not imparted in many staff colleges of the time which focused on conventional warfare.

General Sir Frank Kitson, GBE, KCB, MC & Bar, DL

And while the idea of unorthodox warfare was not invented during this period, the experience of fighting against miscellaneous national liberation movements while utilizing irregular methods of warfare brought about new theoretical constructs that began to reshape the thinking of many military staff colleges about the manner in which they trained their officers.

Up to this point in time, the ‘warrior-scholar’ was perhaps best exemplified by the German General Heinz Guderian whose writings about the use of mobile mass tank formations in battle provided an innovation from the largely static trench-warfare fought during the First World War. The experience of colonial wars produced military theoreticians in the art of counter-insurgency such as Roger Trinquier and David Galula, both French officers, the former who served during the First Indochina War and the Algerian War and the later in Algeria.

British military officers have also made significant contributions to the development of counter-insurgency techniques. This is not surprising giving over two centuries of imperial policing and combating revolutionary movements. Robert Thompson’s experience of the counter-insurgency effort in Malaya provided a theoretical template geared towards defeating the Maoist technique of rural guerrilla insurgency.

Frank Kitson, whose soldiering career developed during the waning years of empire is another such figure. He served in Malaya, Kenya, Aden and Northern Ireland, and is theories have alongside Thompson’s become the official counter-insurgency doctrine of the British Army.

It is often argued that while Thompson’s theories are focused on the strategic and operational level, Kitson’s are practically orientated to the operational and tactical level. Another important area of distinction between both men relates to the collation of intelligence. Where Thompson felt that this was a matter for the relevant police organisation, Kitson stressed that this should be centred with the army.

One crucial factor that sets Kitson apart from Thompson is his notoriety. He was deeply involved in what are now universally acknowledged to have been ‘dirty wars’ fought by the British Army in Malaya, Kenya and Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, he initiated a covert intelligence military organisation known as the Military Reaction Force (MRF) which carried out missions that effectively amounted to state-sanctioned assassinations. He also had under his charge the Parachute Regiment’s Support Company which played a crucial role in the 1972 massacre of protesting civilians known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.

Moreover, his experiences in Kenya formed the backdrop of his books Gangs and Counter-Gangs (1960) and Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping (1971), both of which prescribe counter-insurgency tactics which still form the DNA of the British Army’s response to insurgencies.

Kitson clearly subscribed to the philosophy of the ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, that to understand your enemy, you need to be your enemy. Thus, a key plank of Kitson’s formula for waging asymmetric warfare was the concept of the ‘counter-gang’ or ‘pseudo-gang’.

It was a development from the ‘government gangs’ strategy of an earlier British army officer named Orde Wingate who successfully implemented a counter-terror policy against Ethiopian Shiftas in British Sudan and a counter-insurgency in British-ruled Palestine during the Arab Revolt of 1936 to 1939.

Kitson’s idea of a counter-gang consisted of members of the counter-insurgent army and ‘turned’ members of the guerrilla force. The intelligence-driven rationale of the concept meant that the guerrillas had to be infiltrated by traitors and information collated and stored in a large database of information.

Aside from infiltration, Kitson accepted Wingate’s tactic of imitating the modus operandi of the irregulars and taking the fight to them. Infiltration and imitation by the parallel gang provided possibilities for sowing confusion in both the guerrilla-gang and the wider population by launching ‘false flag’ operations designed to discredit them. As a former MRF soldier explained in a BBC Panorama documentary Britain’s Secret Terror Force which was broadcast in 2013, “We were not there to act like an Army unit, we were there to act like a terror group”.

The combination of growing intelligence on the gang resulting in arrest or compromise as informers and government agents together with psychological operations which demoralise its membership and denude its capabilities would, Kitson theorized, ultimately subjugate an insurgent force.

Kitson’s view of insurgency also stressed the importance of integrating the military effort with a flexible legal background, the resources of the media and political action to provide a favourable outcome to the conflict.

While Kitson claimed that working within the law was an important factor in managing a successful counter-insurgency campaign, it is clear that the methods employed in Kenya and in Northern Ireland respectively against Mau Mau and Irish Republican Army insurgents went outside the boundaries respectively of the relevant colonial laws in place as well as British law.

That he believed there was a need to abrogate ethical and legal constraints is clear from a statement Kitson made in 1971, when he was captured on film asserting the following:

In order to put an insurgency campaign down, one must use a mix of measures and it is sometimes necessary to do unpleasant things which lose a certain amount of allegiance for a moment in order to produce your overall results.

This doctrine formed the basis of the strategy employed by the British Army in countering the IRA during ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, in the early stages by the use of British Army personnel, the aforementioned MRF, as a counter-gang, and later by the use and manipulation of loyalist terror groups via military intelligence organisations such as the Special Reconnaissance Unit (SRU) and the Force Research Unit (FRU). Further, 14 Intelligence Company was a surveillance unit whose work paved the way for lethal counter-terror operations conducted by Special Forces.

The MRF functioned in the first instance as a surveillance and intelligence gathering unit and then acting on information gathered as a direct action counter-terrorist unit. As a ‘counter-gang’, the MRF aimed to denude the IRA’s capabilities and to demoralize its members.

Also, those actions by MRF units such as drive-by shootings which could be attributed to loyalist paramilitary gangs, were designed to draw the IRA into a fight with rival Protestant paramilitary organisations and so divert the IRA from attacking British troops.

Furthermore, targeting and shooting dead IRA guerrillas and inflicting civilian casualties was designed to show that the IRA was vulnerable and that the Roman Catholic community could not rely on the organisation for protection.

The shooting of a sixteen-year old outside of a school disco and of three men chatting at a bus stop were typical of many actions traceable to the MRF. The unit’s members did not operate under the Yellow Card rules of engagement which governed the use of force employed by soldiers in Northern Ireland. MRF operatives opened fire on unarmed civilians and shot at IRA suspects even if it was uncertain that they were carrying weapons. As one MRF soldier said, “If they needed shooting they’d be shot”.

While they may have felt they were hunting down ‘baby-killers’ and ‘psychopaths’, many in the Republican community considered their activities to have amounted to state-sanctioned murder. And the figure they believe bears the responsibility for these acts is Frank Kitson.

In 2015, he was made subject of a legal suit accusing him of been “liable personally for negligence and misfeasance in public office” on the basis that in creating this policy, he was “reckless as to whether state agents would be involved in murder.”

Kitson’s response was to assert that he was only a commander of troops and not a policymaker. He made no specific references to his experiences in Northern Ireland in his 1977 book Bunch of Five, a military autobiography, given the sensitivity associated with a still ongoing conflict.  MRF organisational records have been destroyed and while there may be a temptation to portray Frank Kitson as have been merely the spiritus rector of early and later techniques employed in the counter-insurgency, there is ample evidence pointing to Kitson as having been the architect of the overall policy as well as the specific creator of the MRF.

For starters, his service in Northern Ireland dating from September 1970 when he was posted there as a Brigadier commanding the 39th Infantry Brigade until his departure in April 1972 coincides with the time frame of the MRF’s creation and its area of activity.

The MRF operated from the summer of 1971 to the early part of 1973. Kitson’s brigade, which operated as 39 Airportable, was responsible for the area of Belfast and the eastern part of the province -areas covered by MRF activity. The MRF’s camp and armory were located in Palace Barracks, Holywood -east of Belfast- in County Down which functioned as the Brigade’s headquarters. In fact, during the June 1973 attempted murder trial of one Sergeant Clive Williams, Williams identified himself as belonging to an MRF unit attached to 39th Infantry Brigade.

Moreover, Lord Carver, the British officer who served as head of army administration during the Kenyan crisis and as a government advisor during the early part of ‘The Troubles’ was quoted by Mark Urban, the historian and journalist, in his book Big Boys Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle against the IRA, as stating that Kitson was the initiator of the MRF.

For some time,” said Carver, “various surveillance operations by soldiers in plain clothes had been in train, initiated by Frank Kitson when he commanded the (39) Brigade in Belfast, some of them exploiting ex-members or supporters of the IRA.

Although he was never the most senior officer serving in Northern Ireland, Kitson’s importance to covert and overt operations is made clear by General Sir Mike Jackson who in his memoirs described Kitson as being “the sun around which the planets revolved” who “very much set the tone for the operational style in Belfast.”

Kitson secured the approval of his superiors to set up the MRF and those MRF members who had been recruited from the ranks of the IRA –known as ‘Freds’- were sent to live in a married quarters section of Palace Barracks. Clear evidence of his involvement can be ascertained from a paper Kitson penned for the Home Office entitled Future Developments in Belfast by Commander 39 Airportable Brigade. Dated the fourth of December 1971, Kitson, when explaining the need for more organisational efficiency on the part of the British Army, writes, “As you know, we are taking steps to do this in terms of building up and developing the MRF…”

Kitson’s philosophy and activities in Northern Ireland is also important to consider in the context of Britain at the time. This is because he believed that there was a strong possibility that the breakdown in law and order in Northern Ireland could be mirrored in the rest Britain and that the tactics employed there would be required on the mainland.

This is not at all fanciful. The country which Kitson was serving in the late 1960s and the 1970s, was one severely challenged by a range of maladies which threatened to get out of hand. The loss of empire and a sense of economic malaise represented by the devaluation of the pound, high levels of unemployment, a militant trade union movement which some influential people believed was being guided by a ‘communist Trojan Horse’ all contributed to a growing pessimism on the part of certain influential members of the Establishment that Britain was bedevilled by ineffective governance and on the brink of economic collapse.

England was no longer a green and pleasant land and the possibility existed that unpleasant measures of the sort advocated by Kitson might need to be put into effect.

Certainly, among the measures considered was that of a military takeover. In the late 1960s, the newspaper baron Cecil King was the focus of a plot by renegade MI5 officers in an enterprise which would have engineered the overthrow the Labour government of Harold Wilson and the installation of Lord Mountbatten as the head of a military regime.

In 1974, a series of army deployments around Heathrow Airport in January and June were viewed as dress rehearsals for a coup by Wilson who had not been given advance warning or notified about who gave the orders.

While retired military figures such as General Walter Walker, a former NATO commander, and David Stirling, the founder of the SAS, had garnered publicity because of their endeavours in setting up private armies which they intended to use to keep the country functioning in the event of a union-led general strike, behind the scenes, serving officers in the military are believed to have readied themselves for action.

If a coup or similar extraordinary action involving a declared state of emergency had taken place, it would have been facilitated by the likes of Kitson. His book Low Intensity Operations had advocated the use of the army in a situation of severe civil disorder. The army, he believed, needed to be deployed against ‘subversion’ as it had been against ‘insurgency’.

To Kitson, the tools of subversion involved the “use of political and economic pressure, strikes, protest marches, and propaganda” which could be employed to pressure the government to “do things they do not want to do” and coercing the public into giving support.

A close reading of his words could identify any non-violent direct action protest movements including the trade union movement as potential sources of subversion. In a television interview, Kitson stated that it might be necessary for the military to “take over against terrorist plots and conspiracies” which might develop in Britain.

These views according to a BBC news reporter implicated Kitson in the planning of a military coup – an accusation which he strongly denied. There was a fundamental difference, Kitson argued, between upholding the civilian government and undermining democracy.

Yet, it is the the case that the methods employed by Kitson in colonial emergencies and in the domestic circumstance of Northern Ireland offended the rule of law. His theories and their application are laced with ambiguity and contradiction. For instance, the assertion that counter-insurgency methods should be applied within the law is qualified by an insistence that the law be flexible and accommodating of certain measures that needed to be taken to defeat the insurgents. As he wrote in Bunch of Five:

No country which relies on the law of the land to regulate the lives of its citizens can afford to see that law flouted by its own government, even in an insurgency situation. In other words, everything done by a government and its agents in combating insurgency must be legal. But this does not mean that the government must work within exactly the same set of laws during an insurgency as existed beforehand, because it is a function of government to make new laws when necessary

It is a form of logic that echoes the old Cromwellian adage about those “great occasions in which some men are called to great services, in the doing of which they are excused from the common rule of morality.” In essence, Kitson argued that a peaceful state of affairs could be restored by resorting to the use of morally disagreeable tactics.

But what was intended to serve as a peacekeeping force in Northern Ireland became a partisan one and could not be considered as a neutral broker between the warring communities since the British army essentially took sides with Protestant paramilitaries.

The esteem with which Frank Kitson is held for his service to the British state is evidenced by the assortment of military medals he received. These include the Military Cross and a Bar. His award of the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1968 was upgraded to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1972 for his operational service in Northern Ireland the previous year. He ended his army career with the rank of general and as a sign of the favour in which he is held by the state was for a time the aide-de-camp general to the sovereign.

He is also a figure of respect and even held in reverence by a large segment of his contemporaries and subsequent generations of soldiers. General Mike Jackson, a young paratrooper serving a tour of duty in Northern Ireland at the time Kitson was posted there, considered him an “incisive thinker and military theorist”, while US General David Petraeus paid him a visit at his Devon home prior to the major counter-insurgency effort in Iraq known as ‘the surge’.

While the ending of the conflict in Northern Ireland, starting with the declaration by the IRA in 1994 of a “complete ceasefire”, is characterised by sympathizers of the Republican movement as a statemate followed by political compromise, the fact that the IRA’s demands for the complete withdrawal of British troops and the reunification of Ireland was not accomplished is interpreted by British military figures as a victory of the British state. If this view is accepted, it vindicates Kitson’s methods. But at what cost?

Those with a rudimentary knowledge of ‘The Troubles’ will know that the arrival of British troops was initially welcomed by the Roman Catholic community. Yet, the tide changed and Kitson and his methods are held out as a model of how not to win the hearts and minds of a population within which an insurgency is taking place. While the British Army’s efforts cannot solely be taken as the reason for the transformation of a peaceful civil rights movement seeking to end anti-Catholic discrimination into a violent state of affairs, the measures adopted from its prevailing counter-insurgency doctrine cannot have helped.

Kitson, claimed Paddy Devlin of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, “probably did more than any other individual to sour relations between the Catholic community and the security forces”. The view that the paratroop unit under his command, nicknamed’ ‘Kitson’s private army’, had a reputation for thuggishness and of being ‘out of control’, is one which was allegedly held by other British army units. This unit was involved in the massacres respectively of Ballymurphy in August of 1971 and Derry in January 1972.

The misgivings and distrust on the part of Catholics about Kitson’s policies are affirmed by specific incidents involving the MRF and 1 Para as well as the atmosphere of repression and coercion alluded to when he wrote that “conditions can be made reasonably uncomfortable for the population as a whole in order to provide an incentive for a return to normal life and to act as a deterrent towards a resumption of the campaign.” Kitson’s transfer during 1972 from operational duties to that of training soldiers at the Infantry School at Warminster may be viewed as a concession to the Catholic community by the then home secretary William Whitelaw.

The polarized views on Frank Kitson the warrior are not surprising since they reflect the perennial contending issues of how best to deal with a violent insurgency while attempting to maintain adherence to the law. British methods in countering first Arab and then Jewish terrorism in Palestine were marked by the ruthless methods employed by the army and police.

It is a curious but noteworthy fact that many military theorists and practitioners of counter-insurgency warfare who hailed from democracies such as Britain and France did not shirk from developing brutal strategies aimed at defeating insurgencies. As Kitson wrote, what he described as the “more intelligent officers” find themselves developing a new “deviousness” in terms of outwitting what often turn out to be determined and resourceful foes “by all means”.

Many of the French officers with experience of the conflicts in Indochina and Algeria became adept in the conduct of so-called psychological operations. A number of them, including Colonel Jean Gardes went on to become members of the Organisation de l’Armee Secrete (OAS) after which fleeing to exile, they came to serve as trainers and advisors to the Argentinean military officers who conducted the ‘dirty war’ against Marxist guerrillas in the 1970s and 80s. One of Colonel Roger Trinquier’s prerequisites for fighting an anti-guerrilla campaign was the use of terror and torture as necessary evils.

The counter-insurgency doctrine of the United States as implemented during the Vietnam War, Central America and then Iraq has also revealed a rich underbelly of amoral strategies that have left in their wake a recurring pattern of serious human rights violations including murder and torture.

What sets Kitson apart from these other exponents is that the application of his policies was not limited to foreign jurisdictions which were colonised, occupied or which served as client states, but that it was transferred to a province of the United Kingdom.

One way in which Frank Kitson’s legacy may be explored is to refrain from taking the path requiring that he be cast unambiguously as either a hero for valiant services offered to Queen and country at times of great difficulty or as the villainous author of murder and mayhem.

Instead, it can be argued that in the theory and practice of his special brand of warfare, we see an illumination of the perennial dilemmas when countries are confronted with national security emergencies; that which attempts to reconcile the desire to achieve a restoration of peace and security with the sort of severe measures which compromise the values of human rights and the rule of law.

Those who consider the near three decade-long programme of counter-insurgency in Northern Ireland to have been a success and by extension a vindication of Kitson’s theories must contend with the evidence of the deliberate murder of non-combatant civilians alongside the extra-judicial executions of suspects and reflect on the cost to the democratic and civilizational values which the state claimed to be fighting to uphold.

It is always a dangerous path to tread the logic which holds that the ends will always justify the means.

Adeyinka Makinde is a London-based law lecturer with interests in military history and in intelligence & security studies

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The ACLU believes one photo depicts “the body of Muhamad Husain Kadir, an Iraqi farmer, shot dead at point-blank range by an American soldier while handcuffed.”

Next month, the U.S. government will return to court again to prevent the release of thousands of photos of military personnel torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib and other sites in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been described as more horrific than the infamous Abu Ghraib torture photos.

It’s the latest round in a protracted legal battle that began in 2004 when the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit demanding the release of some 2,000 photographs which were withheld by the government after it released the infamous images of Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison where U.S. soldiers tortured prisoners.

One photo is said to depict a mock execution, while another reportedly shows the body of a farmer shot who was by an American soldier while he was handcuffed.

The U.S. government has repeatedly argued that the images, which are believed to depict torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of American soldiers, were so severely disturbing that their release would make U.S. forces vulnerable to retaliatory attack. In April, Eliza Relman, a legal assistant to the ACLU’s National Security Project, rejected this argument:

To allow the government to suppress evidence of abuse is to invite a recurrence of that abuse in the future.

The Bush and Obama administrations have both used a series of legal stratagems to block the photos’ release, including the Protected National Security Documents Act (PNSDA), a 2009 law that allows the secretary of defense to conceal any image for up to three years. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates invoked the statute in 2009 to conceal all 2,000 images, and his successor, Leon Panetta, renewed the ban in 2012.

In March, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ordered the release of all 2,000 images, giving the government 60 days to release the photos or file an appeal.

Faced with the prospect of further delays, the ACLU compiled a spreadsheet of everything it knows about the photographs. Relman highlighted a few of the horrors believed to be contained in the collection:

One photo shows an Iraqi teenager bound and standing in the headlights of a truck immediately after his mock execution, staged by U.S. soldiers. Another shows a group of soldiers forcing a detainee to look at pictures of lingerie-clad women. Another depicts the body of Muhamad Husain Kadir, an Iraqi farmer, shot dead at point-blank range by an American soldier while handcuffed.

The government filed an appeal on June 9, and oral arguments are scheduled to begin on Jan. 15 at the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. In the appeal, the government argued that the PNSDA allows the secretary of defense to overrule Freedom of Information Act requests and even court orders like those issued by Judge Hellerstein. In the ACLU’s Aug. 6 response, they argue that this represents a drastically overbroad interpretation of the law:

This Court should now reject DOD’s extreme argument, which fundamentally misunderstands the role of the judiciary in FOIA cases. While the PNSDA allows DOD to withhold certain photographs under Exemption 3 to FOIA, it nowhere seeks to eliminate, limit or even alter the power of Courts to exercise the power of judicial review that is explicit in FOIA.

Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director at the ACLU and the director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, concurred in a January editorial, arguing that the government cannot be allowed to use terrorism as an excuse to hide unethical and illegal behavior:

To accept the argument, at least in the absence of a specific, credible threat directed against specific people, is to give the government far-reaching power to suppress evidence of its own misconduct. And the worse the misconduct, the stronger would be the government’s argument for suppression.

A gonzo journalist from Austin, Texas and Staff Writer for MintPress News, Kit O’Connell’s writing has also appeared at Truthout, the Texas Observer, and The Establishment. 

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